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Egypt: Attacks on Religious Communities

Volume 632: debated on Thursday 7 December 2017

8. What steps the Church of England is taking to support religious communities in Egypt as a result of the recent attacks against Coptic and Islamic communities in that country. (902817)

The Church supports ecumenical agencies such as Embrace the Middle East. That, in turn, has supported four projects, including for the Coptic Evangelical Organisation for Social Services in Cairo, which supports more than 2 million Egyptians in more than 100 rural and urban communities.

What steps is the Church taking to highlight the importance of a cross-Department approach to tackling the persecution of religious minorities, especially Christians abroad, not simply because that is the right thing to do, but because it is important for our security at home?

The Church regularly facilitates opportunities for Church representatives to speak to Government Departments. Only this week we facilitated a visit by a bishop from Zimbabwe, who spoke to Foreign Office Ministers. I draw my hon. Friend’s attention to the interesting speech made by the Bishop of Peterborough on 5 December, in which he talked very much about the hidden victims of persecution. I think that she will find comfort in the bishop’s speech with regard to awareness of how this plays at home.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the many displaced middle east Christians need support to ensure that they have safe environments in which to live and flourish? Hopefully, they will be able, in time, to return to their home communities. Will she join me in commending Open Doors for its global seven-year campaign, “Hope for the Middle East”?

I certainly commend Open Doors. I recommend to Members next Wednesday afternoon’s “Hope for the Middle East” event in the Terrace Pavilion, where Open Doors will be encouraging us all to support the plight of those people.

As that was probably the last question to me before the recess, may I wish everybody a happy Christmas? Let us not forget that Jesus was carried in his mother’s arms all the way to Egypt, fleeing persecution, so while we celebrate, let us also remember those who are forced to flee from persecution.