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ICC Note: Political leaders in the United Kingdom, including Prime Minister David Cameron, are starting to highlight the global phenomena of Christian persecution. As Lord David Alton put it recently, “there is a mistaken belief that somehow this has little or nothing to do with us.” He goes on to say that unless the West will “challenge the conspiracy of silence which surrounds the question of religious persecution, at the hands of radical Islamists and atheists alike, we will sleep-walk into a massive tragedy.”

4/20/14 United Kingdom (WWM) – In the lead-up to Easter, UK Prime Minister David Cameron committed his government to fighting the persecution of Christians abroad, saying no group is under more pressure for its faith. Cameron is not alone in making the claim. In February, US Congressman Chris Smith said “The global persecution of Christians has gone from bad to worse.” In November 2012, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said “Christianity is the most persecuted religion worldwide.”

In January 2011, former Lebanese President Amine Gemayal said “What is happening to Christians is a genocide.” In May 2013, Christian Solidarity International an international human rights organization issued a Genocide Alert for Christians and other religious minorities in Syria and Egypt. On March 12, the day before Cameron’s announcement, Lord David Alton, of the UK’s House of Lords, spoke at a Lenten Vigil dedicated to the suffering church in Syria and the Middle East. During the service, Alton highlighted the systematic killing and outright persecution of Christians, which he said “takes place without hardly a murmur of protest.” “There is a mistaken belief that somehow this has little or nothing to do with us,” he said. Speaking in a town near London, Alton discussed in detail what he said is the “complete denial about the existence of religiously motivated persecution” in hopes of encouraging policymakers, intelligence services and the media to have a more considered understanding of religious radicalisation and intolerance.

“Religious illiteracy amongst policy makers in Western nations means that the way we view these conflicts has led to serious mistakes,” he said. Alton’s talk, titled “Paying a Price for Belief,” addressed maltreatment of Christians globally but focused on specifically on North Korea, Pakistan and Syria — places where he said being a Christian requires one to pay the ultimate price for their faith. “The two greatest fault lines of our times are the fault lines between Christianity and secularism, and Christianity and Islam,” he said.

“Unless we lay bare the ideology which lies behind radical Islamist thinking – and which too often reduces God to the status of a faction leader or tribal chief – and challenge the conspiracy of silence which surrounds the question of religious persecution, at the hands of radical Islamists and atheists alike, we will sleep-walk into a massive tragedy.”

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