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Tory MP questions whether UK should stop aid to countries which persecute Christians
Former Defence Secretary Liam Fox says many find it unacceptable that funds are sent around the world to regimes and governments intolerant of other people's religions.
A group set up to defend Pakistani Christians is backing a former Tory minister's calls for the UK to reconsider giving aid to countries which persecute believers.
Former Defence Secretary Liam Fox is questioning whether hundreds and millions of pounds in foreign aid should be withheld from such countries that do no "represent our values".
The Tory MP says many find it unacceptable that funds are sent around the world to regimes and governments intolerant of other people's religions. He singled out Pakistan and Somalia as being guilty of tolerating inequality and the persecution of Christians.
CLAAS agrees with his comments and the charity's Director, Nasir Saeed, told Premier's Marcus Jones during the News Hour why he's supporting the MP's call:
Last year, the UK spent £8.57bn on foreign aid which went to countries including Syria, Iraq and North Korea where believers have faced difficulties. Anti-persecution charity Release International says communism remains a potent oppressor of Christians, with North Korea maintaining its reputation as the worst persecutor of Christianity in the world.
Its UK Director Colin King said:
"2014 looks set to be a turbulent year for Christians - especially ahead of elections in Nigeria and Afghanistan.
"Extreme Islam is on the rise, leading to greater persecution and an exodus of Christians from the Middle East.
"Communist and former communist countries remain active in oppressing Christians. The worst persecutor of Christians in the world today continues to be North Korea."
Release's partner in North Korea, who cannot be named for his protection said that any activity related to Christianity, whether bowing one's head to pray, possessing a Bible or making contact with a missionary while abroad, is punished harshly.
The Department for International Development said it didn't tolerate any corruption in the handling of British aid and there are "rigorous checks to protect taxpayers' money".
Mervyn Thomas is the Chief Executive of anti-persecution group Christian Solidarity Worldwide. He tells Premier he's not sure withholding aid money would help believers in countries where persecution is rife:
Despite Christian persecution in 2013, and the forecasts for 2014, the Church continues to stand firm.
Release partner Canon Andrew White, known by many as the 'vicar of Baghdad', said:
"Though the bullets fly and the bombs explode, God is with us and by His grace He will help us to keep moving forward."
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