Northern Ireland news

Report confirms Ian Paisley lobbied for governments that persecute Christians

(L-R) Nigel Dodds, Arlene Foster, Theresa Villiers and Open Doors chief executive Henrietta Blyth at Westminster. Picture posted by Mrs Foster on twitter

THE latest report from the international campaign group highlighting the persecution of Christians confirms that the two of the governments Ian Paisley lobbied for continue to rank among the world's worst offenders.

DUP leader Arlene Foster and her deputy Nigel Dodds joined Open Doors chief executive Henrietta Blyth at Westminster last week to launch the World Watch List report.

The event was hosted by former secretary of state Theresa Villiers.

Open Doors monitors the treatment of Christians in 150 countries and its report concludes that "the situation has become so much worse".

North Korea tops the annual ranking of the 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution but at numbers 14 and 46 respectively are the Maldives and Sri Lanka, two countries whose governments Mr Paisley has lobbied on behalf of in recent years.

The North Antrim MP was suspended from Westminster in July for failing to register a luxury family holiday in Sri Lanka – a country whose government's has a poor human rights record and a history of persecuting Christians. The DUP MP later carried out paid advocacy on behalf of its regime.

In 2016, Mr Paisley and his family travelled to the Maldives, However, a Muslim country which ranks among the worst for its intolerance of other faiths. The DUP MP had argued against economic sanctions being taken against the Maldives over alleged human rights abuses.

According to Open Doors, radical Islamic clerics exert strong control on the islands "making it impossible for converts to show their faith in any way".

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