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The Bishop of Truro must do justice to Palestine’s invisible Christians

23 38 15

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has chosen the Christian festive season to launch an independent review to examine what the British government can do to stop the persecution of Christians around the world. There will be a special focus on the Middle East.

It is indeed a much needed and worthy campaign, although an opinion piece written by Hunt failed to mention the exodus of Christians from occupied Palestine. Apart from a vague reference to the birthplace of Christianity, the key cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem were not even mentioned.

The alarming omission shows that Hunt, like his predecessor Boris Johnson, is prepared to gloss over Israel’s human rights violations against Palestinian Christians and the Zionist state’s blatant disregard for international law. The truth is that Palestinian Christians have been driven out of the birthplace of Jesus by policies drawn up in Tel Aviv and the actions of violent Israeli settlers. The city of Jesus’ birth, Bethlehem, is cut off by Israel’s hated Apartheid Wall.

“It is distressingly poignant at Christmas to hear recent warnings that the persecution facing Christians across the globe is now most stark in the region of its birth,” wrote Britain’s Foreign Secretary. “A century ago, 20 per cent of the people of the Middle East were Christian; today the figure is below 5 per cent. It is not hard to see why. On Palm Sunday in 2017, a suicide bomber in Egypt attacked a Christian Cathedral that has existed since the inception of Christianity, brutally killing 17 of the congregation. This is an extreme example, but it is by no means isolated. Last week, I met an Iraqi doctor who told me how patients had threatened her and her family with beheading when they heard she was a Christian who refused to convert. Step by agonising step, we are witnessing the erosion of Christianity as a living religion in its heartland.”

READ: Palestinian ‘Santas’ barred from Jerusalem for Christmas

The independent review will be chaired by the Bishop of Truro, the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen; like Hunt, he is a graduate of Magdalen College, Oxford. He will examine what practical steps Britain can take to help Christians around the globe following a “dramatic rise in violence” against Christians; an average of 250 are killed each month. Hunt says that his review will have three aims and will include the mapping out of persecution in the Middle East, Africa and Asia while providing “objective analysis” of what support Britain can give. It........

© Middle East Monitor