There were widespread media reports (eg The Guardian, here, The Telegraph here and the BBC, here) that the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has commissioned an independent, global review into the persecution of Christians of all nationalities. The review will be led by the Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, and will make recommendations on the practical steps that the Government can take better to support Christians under threat. The review is due to report by Easter and, according to reports, will be directed specifically at the persecution of Christians rather than at the persecution of religious minorities in general.
The Guardian quotes the Foreign & Commonwealth Secretary as follows:
“Britain has long championed international religious freedom, and the Prime Minister underlined our global leadership on this issue when she appointed my excellent colleague Lord Ahmad as her special envoy on freedom of religion or belief. So often the persecution of Christians is a telling early warning sign of the persecution of every minority”
He added that the UK can and must do more to respond to the plight of persecuted Christians around the world.
According to the BBC, the review will have three aims:
- to map the persecution of Christians in “key countries” in the Middle East, Africa and Asia;
- to provide an analysis of current UK government support; and
- to offer recommendations for a “cohesive and comprehensive policy response”.
Update: The FCO subsequently confirmed the story on its website: “Foreign Secretary announces global review into persecution of Christians. In an op-ed published in the Telegraph, Jeremy Hunt explains why he has commissioned a review into the persecution of Christians.” Why the FCO press office didn’t put out a press statement at the outset, who knows?