By Jack Doyle Associate Editor For The Daily Mail
Published: 22:01 BST, 2 May 2019 | Updated: 00:04 BST, 3 May 2019
Christians are 'by far the most persecuted' religious group and are enduring what amounts to genocide in some parts of the world, a report concluded.
They are being driven out of the Middle East in a modern-day exodus that means the religion could be wiped out in parts 'where its roots go back furthest', the study commissioned by the Foreign Office found.
And the report by the Bishop of Truro, the Right Rev Philip Mounstephen, found 'shocking' evidence that the persecution is worse today than ever.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt last night blamed 'political correctness' for a failure to confront the oppression of Christians, which he called the 'forgotten persecution'.
A new report has laid bare the persecution of Christians around the world. 245million Christians are persecuted worldwide in 50 countries, a rise of 30million rise year on year
Mr Hunt said he would use Britain's diplomatic influence to defend Christians where they were under attack for their faith, and admitted the problem was sometimes neglected due to 'misplaced worry' that confronting it would be interpreted as 'colonialist'.
The bishop said the study found Christians are 'harassed' in more countries than any other religious group, and especially in predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East and North Africa. His report found 245million Christians now suffer 'high levels of persecution' in 50 countries, a rise of 30million year on year.
In particular, they have been attacked by extremist groups in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, north-eastern Nigeria and the Philippines, as well as in India and China. He added that the Middle East is witnessing the 'decimation of some of the faith group's oldest and most enduring communities' and called for 'urgent government support'.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt last night blamed 'political correctness' for a failure to confront the oppression of Christians
A final version of the inquiry, commissioned by Mr Hunt last year, will be released this summer and will cover the Easter Sunday massacre in Sri Lanka.