I  appreciate the concerns of constituents about the recent rising tide of persecution of Christians, and indeed other religions.  I can assure you all that the Government will continue to work hard to promote freedom of religion or belief across the world.

Multilateral organisations are a vital avenue for pursuing progress on what is an international issue. In the last Parliament, the Government worked with the United Nations Human Rights Council to implement Resolution 16/18, which lays the foundations for combating discrimination against people based on their religion throughout the world. Foreign Office Ministers brought together countries across the world to discuss implementation in 2013 and continued to monitor progress through a number of follow-up meetings.

The Government also prioritised freedom of religion through bilateral engagement with governments across the world, ensuring that every minister at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was an ambassador for religious freedom, raising and promoting these issues in the countries for which they have responsibility will continue to do so going forward. For example, in China, the Government regularly raises the subject of harassment and legal restrictions faced by the Chinese Christian community at the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue, publishing quarterly updates on the progress made.

Of course, there is more work that needs to be done. I am assured that the Government will build on its work in the previous Parliament to make clear the facts of history and correct the views of those who seek to create conflict for their own divisive means, such as claiming Christianity in the Middle East is an import of ‘the west’.

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