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Christians: Middle East

Volume 707: debated on Thursday 27 January 2022

6. What recent assessment the Church of England has made of the level of threats to Christians in the Middle East. (905263)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who I know takes issues of religious persecution very seriously indeed. We know from Open Doors and others of the extreme persecution suffered by Christians in, for example, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Qatar and Egypt.

I thank my hon. Friend for his answer. As the newly elected chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Christianity in the Holy Land, I am grateful for the attention of Members of this House, the media and faith leaders across the world on the challenges that Christians face in the Holy Land and in the middle east more widely, as he expressed. I welcome the public assurances from President Herzog and Interior Minister Shaked that Israel will support the Christians of the Holy Land, but may I ask what efforts the Church of England is making to work with Her Majesty’s Government to ensure that Jerusalem—a home to the three Abrahamic faith communities and, indeed, the religious capital of the world—is a place where Christian individuals and institutions can continue to flourish and thrive?

I know that, like me, my hon. Friend is deeply conscious that this is Holocaust Memorial Day. I can tell her that there are many strong relationships enabling the church to support Christians and churches in Jerusalem, the land where Jesus walked. Last year, the diocese of Southwark signed a covenant agreement with the diocese of Jerusalem, opening new opportunities for pilgrimage, prayer and mutual support. The Bishop of Southwark goes to Jerusalem often and is in regular contact with our consul general and with Ministers in London about what can be done to ensure the peace of Jerusalem so that all faiths can flourish in the Holy Land.