Is political correctness stopping Governments helping Middle East Christians?
A long term reluctance to intervene by governments of the US, EU and other western powers has made the plight of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria even worse. The latest Report produced by an alliance of 15 charities including Aid to the Church in Need and Release International shows that religious persecution in the Middle East is now extending into UNHCR camps.
Christians and other minorities face attacks even once they reach the comparative safety of the UN-provided refugee centres, which have been infiltrated by Islamic militants. As a result many displaced Christians have chosen to live in the basements of bombed houses and makeshift shelters, rather than risk being attacked in official refugee camps.
The Report states that “The West (since the middle of last century) has been broadly unwilling to associate specifically with Christians” “Furthermore, the Christian and other minority populations are not positively considered in the international humanitarian and development planning and are therefore missing out.”
“This, in combination with a one-size-fits-all, ‘need, not creed’, non-discriminatory, approach has resulted, paradoxically, in very effective discrimination against those who have been the victims of genocidal violence at the hands of the faith-majority on both sides of the Sunni Shia divide,”
The Report concludes: “Ongoing persecution coupled with serial reluctance by the western powers and the UN to recognise the specific vulnerabilities of these minorities has led to rapidly diminishing numbers and a realistic fear of the extinction of these faiths and their ancient cultures from the Middle East.”
Following the publication of the Report a cross-party coalition of senior UK politicians, including the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, has now written to urging her to support the world’s oldest Christian civilisations. Their intervention comes after a joint report by 15 charities accused the Prime Minister
The letter was signed by nine peers including Lord Carey and crossbench peers Lord Alton and Baroness Cox. 13 MPs from across the major parties also signed. Among them were Jeremy Lefroy, Conservative MP for Stafford, Keith Vaz, Labour MP for Leicester East, Gary Streeter, Conservative MP for South West Devon, Rob Flello, Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent South and Philippa Whitford, SNP MP for Central Ayreshire. Other signatories included a group of faith leaders among them the heads of Orthodox, Catholic, Coptic and Armenian Churches.
The co-signed letter warned that without immediate help, “Christians and other minorities will be all but driven out of the Middle East”. The signatories say “political correctness” has prevented aid agencies and governments from helping Christians and others religious minorities whose faith makes their status worse.
It added: “We hope that a political and humanitarian lifeline would now be extended to the Christians and other religious ‘minorities’ who are caught up in the terrible conflict throughout the Middle East.”
Theresa May was urged to make the Middle East’s Christians and other minorities a priority. The letter also stated that security in UNHCR camps must be reviewed and more non-Muslim staff employed to protect other faiths.