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Volume 541: debated on Thursday 1 March 2012

The Archbishop of Canterbury and his staff are in regular contact with the Bishop of Jerusalem, whose diocese includes Syria. The archbishop has just returned from a personal pilgrimage to the middle east and has seen at first hand the issues facing Christians living there. The people of Syria who are being subjected to crimes against humanity need the prayers and support of all in this House.

I am sure that we would all support the end of the Assad regime, but it has at least protected the Christian community in Syria from some of the more radical Islamist elements in that society. Does my hon. Friend share my concern about whether the Christian communities in Syria, which are substantial, will get the protection they need if the regime goes, as I am sure we all hope it will, and a new Islamist regime comes in?

My hon. Friend raises an interesting point. It is a fact that Christians in Syria have found a modus vivendi in the past and it is a real tragedy that such human rights atrocities have taken place in Syria. Throughout the middle east, I am afraid, Christians are being put under intolerable strain and pressure, and that must be a matter of concern for us all.