Both Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral are to be flood-lit in red by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) in November this year to highlight the plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East.
The move was announced by the campaigning peer Lord Alton in an article for the Catholic Truth Society. "In November, ACN is arranging for Westminster Cathedral and Westminster Abbey to be floodlit in red to commemorate the persecuted," Lord Alton wrote. "If every parish in the country did the same it might at last wake up our political classes to the scale of the suffering."
On 29 April, Rome's Trevi Fountain was also dyed red by ACN to highlight the plight of persecuted Christians.
Lord Alton added: "In more than 100 countries Christians are persecuted...In Parliament I hosted a meeting of the charity, Aid to the Church In Need (ACN). We heard of how a Christian pastor in a village of Aleppo was told to convert or die. He was forced to watch as his 12-year-old son was tortured: the boy's fingers cut from his hand. Neither the father or son renounced their faith, and both were executed. Despite Resolutions being passed in the House of Commons, the American Congress, the European Parliament and the Australian House of Representatives, the British Government still fails to name these events for the genocide that they are – or to lay a Resolution before the Security Council."
He highlighted examples of atrocities committed against Christians, especially in the Middle East. "It's high time we stood with those who are suffering or dying for their beliefs – with the Christians of the Middle East; with the Iranian, Saeed Abedini, who was imprisoned for 10 years for 'undermining national security' by hosting Christian gatherings in his home; with Chinese Catholics like the late Bishop Cosmas Shi Enxiang, who died last year at 94 years of age, having spent half his life in prison; with the Chinese Christians who, since the beginning of 2016, have seen 49 of their churches defaced or destroyed, crosses removed and a pastor's wife crushed to death in the rubble as she pleaded with the authorities to desist; with the Christians targeted by groups like ISIS, the Taliban, Al Shabab, and Boko Haram," Lord Alton wrote.
A 2013 report by ACN, entitled 'Persecuted and Forgotten' presented testinomies from persecuted Christians and investigated 30 countries where Christianity is under threat, concluding that in some areas the faith is at risk of being completely wiped out.
There is especially severe persecution of Christians in Iraq and Syria where ISIS thrives and subjects believers to forced conversions, violence, enslaving, and displacement. Christians in Nigeria are also being subjected to constant attacks from the Boko Haram terrorist group.
Other countries where Christians experience hardship for their faith include in North Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and Eritrea.