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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Come Polling Day We Will Not Forgive Our Leaders for Their Silence Over Egypt’s Christians

Sticking up for Christians is not something Britain’s ruling Coalition does
Our Government needs to face up to the persecution of Christians abroad (PA)
Our Government needs to face up to the persecution of Christians abroad (PA)

By Father Alexander Lucie-Smith

It is nice to know that the US government has condemned the recent attack by gunmen on a wedding party coming out of a Coptic Church in Egypt. The attack in question took place last Sunday; two of the four people killed were little girls. The attack was reported by the BBC though there seems to have been little reporting of it elsewhere in the print media.

Everyone knows, or ought to know, that Christians in the Middle East are under siege right now. Some, such as our own government here in Britain, choose to ignore this, and there has been no statement from the Foreign Office on this matter. Christians abroad are simply not on our government’s radar. (Though the FCO did have this to say, back in December 2011. But that was almost two years ago.) Sticking up for Christians is not something the Coalition does, one assumes because the idea of Christians as an endangered species has little traction in the current cultural climate: Mr Cameron would much rather talk about species endangered by climate change. 

The Americans will condemn this attack and others like it, as they are Egypt’s chief allies and major donors of much needed aid. Their condemnation will be read in Cairo, perhaps, as a coded warning. Please make sure you protect your Christians better, for America cannot finance and protect an anti-Christian regime in Egypt. (It can do so in Saudi Arabia, but that is another matter.) The American government also has to heed its powerful Christian, particularly evangelical, lobby. It was this lobby that secured American interest in favour of South Sudan in its long struggle to break away from Sudan, and it may well have been American interest in the case that proved decisive in that decades-long conflict. Which all goes to show that when Christian opinion is organised, it can make a difference in foreign policy. After all, Christians in America have votes, lots of them.

Christians in Britain have votes too. While we are nowhere near as vocal or well-organised as the Christians of America, the Christians of Britain are its largest single affinity, and more likely to vote than others simply because they are Christian. We need to make it clear to our elected representatives that come polling day we will not forgive them for their silence on Egypt, or indeed the other places where Christians are victimised. 

Father Alexander Lucie-Smith is a Catholic priest and a doctor of moral theology. On Twitter he is @ALucieSmith  

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