UK orders review into global anti-Christian violence

Monitoring group says 215 million Christians worldwide faced 'high levels of persecution' this year

Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is seen with a copy of "Jay Jay the Journalist" written by Wa Lone, one of two Reuters reporters currently imprisoned in Myanmar, whilst working in his office in London, Britain, December 20, 2018. Picture taken December 20, 2018.  REUTERS/Toby Melville

Britain's government ordered a global review to find ways to counter a sharp rise in violence against Christians around the world.

The review, which will be led by a senior British cleric, will make recommendations to government on what it can do to protect minorities. “We can and must do more,” Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.

The government said, on average, 250 Christians were killed every month last year because of their faith. Open Doors, a group monitoring violence against Christians worldwide, said 215 million people experienced “high levels of persecution”.

North Korea was ranked as the most oppressive nation for Christians ahead of Afghanistan, according to Open Doors' 2018 World Watch List. Libya, Iraq, Yemen and Iran are also in the top ten.

In November, extremist militants attacked three buses carrying Christian pilgrims in Egypt killing at least seven people in the latest deadly attack to rock the country.

ISIS has repeatedly said it would go after Egypt’s Christians in reprisal for their support of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, who as defence minister oversaw the ousting of Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohammed Morsi, in 2013.


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Attacks on Christians in southern India have also risen with the coming to power of the Hindu nationalist BJP, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Open Doors said it recorded the deaths of about 3,000 Christians in its 2018 report, and said nearly 800 churches were attacked.

The UK government said Christian women and children were particularly vulnerable and often subjected to sexual violence because of their beliefs.

“So often the persecution of Christians is a telling early warning sign of the persecution of every minority,” said Mr Hunt.

The review will map Christian persecution in countries across the Middle East, Africa and Asia and report back in April.