WASHINGTON (RNS) The highest-ranking Muslim in the British government on Friday (Nov. 15) called on Western governments to do more to protect besieged Christian minorities across the world, particularly in the Holy Land where they are now seen as “outsiders.”
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the government’s minister for faith and the first Muslim member of a British cabinet, said religious freedom is a proxy for human rights and must not be an “add-on” to foreign policy.
“A mass exodus is taking place, on a biblical scale,” she said in a speech at Georgetown University. “In some places, there is a real danger that Christianity will become extinct.”
Warsi, a mother of five and the daughter of Pakistani immigrants, said Christian minorities in war-torn regions of Egypt, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere are threatened by Muslim majorities in the very places that gave rise to Christianity.
“What concerns me is that these communities … are now being seen as outsiders,” she said in a forum hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations. And when the majority religion is offended or aggrieved, “the local Christian community is fair game, and that somehow collective punishment can be meted out against these communities for what they see as the perceived actions of their co-religionists” abroad.