Second Church Estates Commissioner and Conservative MP, Dame Caroline Spelman, has championed the Open Doors “Hope for the Middle East” petition in Parliament. Signed by over 750,000 people from 143 countries including North Korea, the petition calls upon the UK government and the United Nations to ensure that Middle Eastern Christians and other religious minorities enjoy the right to equal citizenship, dignified living conditions and a prominent role in reconciling and rebuilding their society.
Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP commented “Despite decades of persecution, the church in the Middle East is uniquely placed to bring hope to their wider communities – we in the UK and elsewhere must stand alongside them as they seek to do this, and work tirelessly to secure a future for all people, no matter what their faith, in the Middle East.”
As part of the campaign, Dame Caroline presented the Prime Minister, Theresa May, with a copy of a scotched bible which was recovered from the rubble in the warn torn city of Mosul - until recently the city was under the control of Daesh, also known as the so-called ‘Islamic State’.
Dame Caroline said that the war damaged text was “a poignant reminder of the danger faced by thousands of members of different religious communities who face oppression and discrimination for their beliefs in countries right across the world”.
The petition is part of the ‘Hope for the Middle East’ campaign, launched by Open Doors in partnership with Middle East Concern in a seven year project designed to unite churches around the world and ensure every person in the Middle East, regardless of their faith, has a home, a future and a voice. As part of this, Open Doors asked people to sign the Hope for the Middle East petition, which calls upon the governments around the world and the United Nations to:
- Ensure that the current and future legal frameworks in Syria and Iraq fully promote and protect the equal and inalienable rights of all their citizens, irrespective of race, religion or other status
- To ensure the dignified and continued improvement of living conditions for all citizens, but especially returning refugees and the internally displaced – giving them access to housing, education and jobs
To identify and equip religious leaders and faith-based organisations to play a constructive and central role in reconciling and rebuilding both Syrian and Iraqi societies.