Parliamentary group raising awareness of persecution stories

Tue 10 Jun 2014
By Sarah McAllister

A group of MPs and peers are encouraging Christians to become more aware of the difficulties faced by believers across the world.

A new website's been launched featuring stories of people jailed due to their religion across the world and ways people in the UK can help.

It's been created by the all-party group on international freedom of religion or belief and was funded by benefactors meaning it is independent from the government and parliament.

The group is led by Baroness Berridge who told Premier's Antony Bushfield more.

The website highlights how 76% of the world's population live in countries with high or very high levels of government restrictions on freedom of religion or belief.

Countries such as Iran, Pakistan, Sudan and Burma are noted as particularly concerning.

In Sudan a mother of 2 has been sentenced to death for being a Christian.

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim was eight months pregnant when she was found guilty of apostasy and adultery in May.

The 27-year-old is accused of abandoning her Muslim faith and marrying another Christian but she claims she was never a Muslim and was brought up by her Orthodox mother.

She gave birth to a daughter on the 27th May and remains in prison with her baby Maya and 20 month old son Martin.

The law in Sudan means she won't be killed until at least two years after the child's birth.

Angie Bray, MP for Ealing Central and Acton, is also a member of the group.

She said: "It is extraordinary how many countries across the world, some of whom are signatories to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, fail to uphold freedom of religion or belief, either intentionally or because it proves too difficult. But without this freedom no person or society can flourish."

For each case featured on the website it gives users instructions on who to write to if they want to protest.

It comes as a new report says countries that allow religious freedom are more likely to have better economic growth.

The Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion carried out the 'Is Religious Freedom Good for Business?' study which says a fifth of countries where people are free to have any faith have high levels of innovation.

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