SECTARIAN terrorism is threatening to drive Christianity out of
Iraq - a region where it was established in the time of the
Apostles, the Government's Minister for Faith, Baroness Warsi, has
In a speech at Georgetown University, in Washington, DC, on
Thursday of last week, she said: "A mass exodus is taking place, on
a biblical scale. In some places, there is a real danger that
Christianity will become extinct."
In Iraq, the Christian community has shrunk from 1.2 million in
1990 to 200,000 today, and in Syria the Christian population is
declining rapidly in the face of attacks by extremist
There have also been attacks on Christians in Pakistan and
Egypt. But Christians are not the only victims - Hazara Shias, in
Pakistan; Baha'is, in Iran; and Rohingya Muslims, in Burma, have
also been persecuted because of their faith.
Lady Warsi called for a "cross-faith, cross-continent" response
to the problem. "There is much more that we can do," she said.
"There's an international consensus, in the form of a Human Rights
Council resolution on the treatment of minorities, and tolerance
towards other faiths.
But we need to build political will behindthat."
She has already had "very frank conversations" with ministers in
Pakistan, telling them that senior politicians have a "duty" to
speak out against persecution and set a standard for tolerance. She
pointed out that 83 per cent of countries have constitutions that
guarantee freedom of religion, but they do not all implement their