The persecution of Christians and, indeed, any religious group is entirely unacceptable and I agree that all people should be able to practice and profess their religious faith free from persecution. However, the 2016 World Watch List reminded us that in certain parts of the world religious freedom is still ruthlessly oppressed.
I was shocked to learn from the most recent report produced by Open Doors that the persecution of Christians increased over the previous year, with over 7,000 Christians believed to have been killed for directly faith-related reasons. I believe human rights should be at the heart of our foreign policy. However, an important report by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee earlier this year highlighted concerns about the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) prioritisation of human rights.
The Government must use Britain's influence to stand up for the rights and freedoms that all human beings are entitled to, including religious freedom. Religious organisations play an important and crucial role in highlighting terrible violations of these rights around the world.
You can read the Open Doors report, 2016 Freedom of Religion and the Persecution of Christians.