“Political correctness” on the part of governments is partly to blame for the lack of attention to the persecution of Christians worldwide, said British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
He was commenting on a report he commissioned that concluded the persecution of Christians in parts of the world is at near “genocide” levels, BBC News reported.
Led by the Bishop of Truro the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen, the report estimated that one in three people suffer from religious persecution, and Christians were the most persecuted group.
Hunt said “political correctness” had played a part in the issue not being confronted, the BBC said.
Warning Christianity “is at risk of disappearing” in some parts of the world, the report noted Christians in Palestine now represent less than 1.5 percent of the population. In Iraq, they have fallen from 1.5 million before 2003 to less than 120,000.
“Evidence shows not only the geographic spread of anti-Christian persecution, but also its increasing severity,” the bishop wrote.
Prince Charles commented on the report: “It is an indescribable tragedy that Christianity is now under such threat in the Middle East.”
The report was commissioned Dec. 26 amid outrage over the treatment of a Christian woman in Pakistan, Asia Bibi, who faced death threats after being acquitted of blasphemy.
WND reported that since Bibi was acquitted in October, Pakistani authorities have been protecting her from radical Muslims who immediately took to the streets in protest of the decision. Some searched house-to-house to carry out what they viewed as unfulfilled justice under Islamic law.
A review of the decision in January was part of a deal the government struck with the Tehreek-e-Labbaik party, whose members sought to kill her.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan promised in mid-April she would leave the Muslim nation in two weeks and be reunited with her family.
Asleep at the switch
Hunt said he thought governments had been “asleep” over the persecution of Christians.
But he said the report and the Islamic terrorist attack Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka have “woken everyone up with an enormous shock.”
“I think there is a misplaced worry that it is somehow colonialist to talk about a religion that was associated with colonial powers rather than the countries that we marched into as colonizers,” he said.
“That has perhaps created an awkwardness in talking about this issue — the role of missionaries was always a controversial one and that has, I think, also led some people to shy away from this topic.”
Hunt said that what has been forgotten “in that atmosphere of political correctness is actually the Christians that are being persecuted are some of the poorest people on the planet.”
The BBC said the review is scheduled to publish its final findings in the summer.