Treatment of Christians around the world
David Simpson MP says the UK has a duty to use "all of our influence" to help those who suffer injustice around the world.
As one of the great economies of the world we have a duty to use all of our influence to help those who suffer injustice around the world.
In parts of Africa Christians are facing very real and intense violent persecution. This can be seen write large in countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia and Somalia.
In Asia Pakistan's notorious blasphemy laws have been used as a cover to justify violent attacks. In India, recently the president expressed her shock at the upsurge of violent persecution of Christians especially in states such as Karnataka and Orissa. To this could be added the long enduring plight of Christians in China, Burma, North Korea, and Vietnam.
In the Middle East there are numerous and disturbing examples that can easily be accessed in countries like Iran and Iraq.
In the old Soviet bloc countries – from Russia itself, through to Belarus, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan or Uzbekistan – violence, prosecution an imprisonment are common.
Turning to restrictions upon or the denial of civil and religious liberties for Christians, we can see this in many parts of the world where evangelism is prohibited and conversion is not allowed. In Saudi Arabia expatriate Christians are supposed to be allowed to worship privately, but many are still prosecuted for meeting privately.
We should not be like the priest and the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan and simply pass by on the other side. Many of these nations are important trading partners. Some are in receipt of aide.
Yet others are members of the Commonwealth. It is clear, or at least it ought to be – that silence should not be our response.
I am not advocating that we intervene directly in such countries, but I believe that we could be far more proactive in this regard that we have been thus far.
I would want to urge the government here today, to not simply chase the financial bottom line in our dealings with neighbours and partners but to rise to this challenge.
David Simpson has been DUP MP for Upper Bann, Northern Ireland since 2005.