Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart has said more must be done to protect freedom of religious belief across the world, and said the UK had a key role in highlighting the growing prevalence of persecution on the grounds of religious belief.
The DUP representative made the call as she co-hosted a Northern Ireland launch of the Open Doors World Watch List 2023, alongside the Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council, Cllr. Paul Greenfield.
Speaking at the event in Craigavon, Carla Lockhart said:
“The World Watch List is a comprehensive evidence based report on the countries where persecution on the basis of religious belief is ongoing. It provides us all – whether that be as individuals, policy makers, Government or churches – with a worldwide picture of the suppression of that core right of religious belief, where people live in fear of discrimination or even death for their faith.
It was really good to be able to host a Northern Ireland based launch of the report. Open Doors do amazing work in Westminster and beyond raising this issue with MPs and the Government, but they also do a great job at raising awareness among local churches and others. One of the greatest encouragements I receive as an MP is when I receive a deluge of emails from constituents in response to an Open Doors call for action. It reflects the Christian concern of brothers and sisters in Christ who live here, who enjoy liberty and freedom of religious belief and expression that we have, with those in some of the furthest corners of the world who hold fast to their faith in the face of danger and discrimination.
Today we heard from one such believer who had travelled thousands of miles to be with us to tell their story. It was deeply moving and challenging to hear how he lived through the fear of persecution, the reality of persecution, yet his faith grew.
I will continue to lobby the Foreign Office in relation to this issue. Our Government ought to lead the protection of these rights across the world, to be a voice for those who need a voice and need protection.”