Last week, the UK Government hosted the FoRB Ministerial (Freedom of Religion or Belief). Open Doors attended the international conference, as did many MPs who were invited by you. Some of you even got to meet your MP at the event to discuss your concerns around the persecution of Christians. Here we have an overview of what happened, and how you can continue to pray in response to it.
Open Doors UK & Ireland CEO Henrietta Blyth (second from right) on a panel at the FoRB Ministerial in London on 5-6 July
Thank you to all of you who invited your MP to the FoRB Ministerial, an international conference focused on freedom of religion or belief which was held in London last week (5-6 July). Many MPs attended different parts of the event and were able to hear about what more can be done to promote and protect the right to religious freedom.
The Open Doors Advocacy team attended the event to draw attention to the persecution of Christians around the world. They were there to highlight three alarming trends facing our persecuted family. They also had a stand for delegates to stop by and chat to our team and receive a copy of the 2022 World Watch List report.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Lord Ahmad (far right) speaking with the Open Doors Advocacy team
On the first day, Open Doors co-hosted an event with Aid to the Church in Need on Gender-Specific Religious Persecution (GSRP), which is where religious vulnerability is compounded by existing gender vulnerabilities.
The panel event – which included a focus on Nigeria, Pakistan and Egypt – sought to highlight how persecution against women is often different from that faced by men. It is targeted, invisible and violent. MPs in attendance were asked to consider what more they can do to speak out on this issue.
This was followed by an event focusing on Nigeria. This was done in conjunction with PSJ UK (International Organisation for Peace & Social Justice). Tirham* – a trauma counsellor in the country, who also featured at the GSRP event – spoke alongside Open Doors’ regional expert, Illia Djadi, and Dr Richard Ikiebe.
The speakers discussed how life for Christians in Nigeria was deteriorating sharply, and how urgent action was needed.
On the second day, Open Doors launched a new report titled ‘Digital Persecution: the new frontier for freedom of religion or belief’, which looks at the way technology is increasingly being used in religious persecution. A panel discussing this issue was chaired by Rehman Chishti MP.
L-R: Rehman Chishti MP, Rahima Mahmut (UK Director, Uyghur Congress), Fareed Ahmad (National Secretary of Department for External Affairs, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK), Dr David Landrum (Head of Advocacy & PR, Open Doors UK & Ireland)
Meanwhile, 25 of our amazing supporters, including some of our Advocacy Reps, came to the conference to chat personally to their MPs, urging them to use their influence for the good of persecuted Christians.
Open Doors supporters at the event
James Mackay met with Jonathan Lord MP, who agreed to join the APPG for FoRB (All-Party Parliamentary Group for Freedom of Religion or Belief). Richard Cooke met with Victoria Prentis MP, who was keen to take part in the upcoming debate about the Truro Review. Another supporter met with Andrew Selous MP for an hour in his parliamentary office; he committed to continue highlighting in Parliament the persecution of Christians, particularly in Nigeria. Munira Wilson MP, too, was greatly impacted by a meeting with one of our supporters.
On Monday 4 July, just prior to the FoRB Ministerial starting, the independent review into the progress made by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in implementing the recommendations of the 2019 Truro Review was released.
This assessment was one of the recommendations arising from the Bishop of Truro’s review, and its aim was to examine whether the FCDO had made progress in understanding and championing the right to freedom of religion or belief globally.
This 2022 review reports that the UK Government has taken many welcome actions (including appointing Fiona Bruce MP as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief). However, the global persecution of Christians cannot be solved with one review alone, and further action will be needed to ensure that the FCDO is ready to meet existing and emerging challenges to freedom of religion or belief.
Whatever your role in last week’s important event – be that inviting your MP, attending the conference, or praying – thank you! The voices of our persecuted family are being heard in the corridors of power, and the part you’ve played cannot be understated. Please continue to pray for the UK Government as they seek to lead our country while looking to use their influence to bring change across the world.
*name changed for security reasons
You can hear more updates from the persecuted church, including how you can pray alongside our vulnerable brothers and sisters, by signing up to regular emails. As well as recent stories, you’ll have the opportunity to pray for every country on the Open Doors World Watch List throughout the year.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.