UK's politicians must champion religious freedom - peer

Lord Alton

Lord Alton is urging UK politicians to defend religious freedom around the world and shine a light on the "horrendous atrocities" being perpetrated against people of faith.

The crossbench peer said solutions needed to be found for minorities in Afghanistan after the Taliban seized control last week.

"The last few days have been dominated by the appalling news from Afghanistan and the ever-growing fear of what this will mean for women and girls, religious minorities and countless others," he said.

"That fear is grounded in our knowledge of what they have done before - by the horrific legacy of the atrocities perpetrated by the Taliban. We need to find solutions to help all those at risk." 

Lord Alton made the comments in his capacity as vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

Although Afghanistan is dominating the headlines, he said attention also needed to be given to injustices occurring in other countries which may go unnoticed by the media.

"But even while we are focused on Afghanistan, we must remember that elsewhere in the world atrocities based on religion or belief have not stopped. We just do not hear about them," he said. 

UN member states marked the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief on Sunday.

Lord Alton said it was an opportunity for politicians to champion Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says that "everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion".

He said, "We must remember all these victims, whether known or not, whether their stories have reached the news or not.

"We must remember their pain and suffering and never tire of shining a light on such horrendous atrocities."