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Govt urged to condemn Nigeria attacks

Religious Liberty
8 June 2022
Catholic church massacre Nigeria

The UK Government has been urged to condemn horrendous persecution of Christians in Nigeria, as attacks on believers intensify.

This week, Conservative MP Fiona Bruce, who is vice chair of an all-party group on religious freedom at Westminster, tabled an urgent question asking the government to:

"...make a statement on the killing of church worshippers in Ondo state, Nigeria yesterday, and on wider issues of violence against religious groups in Nigeria".
Fiona Bruce MP

Islamist terrorists targeted worshipers attending a Pentecost service in Ondo State on Sunday, with local reports suggesting dozens were killed in the incident.

Thousands of Christians have been targeted, kidnapped and killed in Nigerian in recent years and continue to face severe persecution from Islamist groups.

Other MPs from across the House also expressed alarm at the situation in Nigeria, where terrorists often operate with impunity, and called for a tougher response from Western leaders.

DUP MP Jim Shannon, a long time champion of freedom of religion and belief at Westminster, said he had traveled to the country and heard disturbing reports first hand. He said:

"As the Minister knows, I travelled to Nigeria last week with other Members of this House and of the other place.

"We met many Christians who had been targeted in the same way as those celebrating Pentecost at St Francis church.

"Just last year, 4,650 Christians were killed for their faith in Nigeria—13 per day."
Jim Shannon MP

The MP called on the UK Government to step up its support for the Nigerian Government, saying it is "the duty of any Government" to "ensure their right to worship their God as they wish to do".

Responding to the debate, Minister Vicky Ford saying she was "horrified" by the recent attack in Ondo State and expressed "the UK Government’s condemnation of this heinous act". She added:

"Rising conflict and insecurity across Nigeria are having a devastating impact on affected communities. I have raised this issue with the Nigerian authorities on several occasions".

"We are committed to defending freedom of religion or belief for all, and to promoting respect between different religious and non-religious communities.

"I discussed FoRB with the Nigerian Foreign Minister only last month, and we look forward to hosting an international conference on FoRB in July.

"We will continue to encourage the Nigerian Government to take urgent action to implement long-term solutions that address the root causes of such violence."
Vicky Ford

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