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How can the Government pour billions into countries that ignore the unspeakable persecution of Christians?
One of the litany of unbearable stories heard throughout the day, which ought to shame Penny Mordaunt and the civil servants at the Department for International Development (DfID), was the story of the two Christian Pakistani children, forced to watch as their parents were burnt alive in a kiln.
Lord Alton told us of the multiple cases of kidnap, forced conversion and forced marriage of teenage girls in Pakistan he has raised with DfID. ‘Discrimination is not a word that does justice to the systematic persecution of Christians in Pakistan,’ he said, mentioning the £383,000 a day in British aid Pakistan receives. ‘Instead of justice, we too often salve our consciences and boast of the money we send.’
This is utterly shameful, yet far from unique. Of the top twenty beneficiaries of UK aid, nine – Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Sudan, Yemen, Syrian, Nigeria, Iraq and Burma – are in Open Doors’ list of the twenty worst countries for religious persecution. They receive between them £2,036 million a year, 54 per cent of the total for the top twenty recipients.
As we heard repeatedly from Parliamentarians, the UK Government refuses to accept the Islamist nature of attacks on Christians in Nigeria. The Foreign Office refuses to accept that Fulani herdsmen armed with AK-47s attacking unarmed Christian farmers do so as jihadists, describing it as ‘tit-for-tat clashes’.
The media and governing classes of our country refuse to accept that persecution of Christians is endemic to large parts of the world as a direct result of militant Islamism, preferring to hide behind the condescending notion it is all just a little local difficulty and will stop once the natives have had a scrap.