Pervasive persecution of Christians, sometimes amounting to genocide, is ongoing in parts of the Middle East, and has prompted an exodus in the past two decades, according to an interim report commissioned by the British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt.
Millions of Christians in the region have been uprooted from their homes, and many have been killed, kidnapped, imprisoned and discriminated against, the report finds. It also highlights discrimination across south-east Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and in east Asia – often driven by state authoritarianism.
“The inconvenient truth,” the report finds, is “that the overwhelming majority (80%) of persecuted religious believers are Christians”.
Hunt described the interim report based on a review led by the bishop of Truro, the Rt Rev Philip Mounstephen – as “truly sobering”.
Hunt said: “I think we have shied away from talking about Christian persecution because we are a Christian country and we have a colonial past, so sometimes there’s a nervousness there,” he said. “But we have to recognise – and that’s what the bishop’s report points out very starkly – that Christians are the most persecuted religious group.”
He added: “What we have forgotten in this atmosphere of political correctness is actually the Christians that are being persecuted are some of the poorest people on the planet. In the Middle East the population of Christians used to be about 20%; now it’s 5%.”