Published: 00:00 GMT Daylight Time - Friday 02 August 2002
CHRISTIAN FORUM IN SUPPORT OF PERSECUTED RELIGIOUS MINORITIES WORLDWIDE For Immediate Release
Christian Agencies Launch Persecuted Religious Minorities Forum
Support for persecuted religious minorities around the world has received new impetus this month following the inauguration of a strategic new network of UK Christian agencies. The Christian Forum in Support of Persecuted Religious Minorities Worldwide was launched at a London conference on 20th July 2002, which attracted nearly 200 participants. Agency backing for the group has come from a range of mission and human rights groups who are keen that membership is now widened to maximise the impact that the forum can have.
Participants at the conference were left in no doubt as to the reality of these issues in the world today. Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon of Kaduna, Nigeria, spoke powerfully of the plight of the Christian community in Muslim-majority North Nigeria. The progressive introduction of full Islamic Shari’ah law since October 1999 has led to widespread discrimination against Christians and inter-communal violence which has resulted in hundreds of deaths. Dr Joseph D’Souza of the All India Christian Council painted a picture of discrimination, intolerance, violence, death and destruction in areas of India where Hindu militants have turned on Muslim and Christian minorities. Following his experience in India where Muslims and Christians are working together, Dr D’Souza was particularly keen to aid a Christian forum with a mandate to support all religious minorities regardless of faith.
Support for the Forum comes from Barnabas Aid, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Christians Aware, Church Mission Society (CMS), Churches' Commission on Mission of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CCOM), International Centre for Reconciliation, Coventry Cathedral and the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG). The mandate of the forum is to facilitate the sharing of information, raise awareness within Church and society, respond appropriately and encourage prayer and action.
Bishop Tom Butler of Southwark who chaired the conference said, “Many religious minorities in different parts of the world face persecution. It is good that a Christian forum should pay attention to their plight. This Conference has helped to inform us of the kind of pressure they experience.” Original visionary for the Forum, Bishop Mano Rumalshah of USPG, added, “our determination to realise this vision is not for our own egos but as an obligation and commitment to our faith. I hope we actively support this cause and bring hope to millions around the world who suffer because of their chosen relationship with their God.”
The Forum has also launched a website to provide up to date information from around the world and channel a Christian response to this religious persecution. It can be found at www.sufferingandhope.org
For more information about the work of the Forum please visit the website or telephone Paul Cook, Barnabas Aid, on 01672 564938 . Photographs of the conference are also available.