A Conservative MP has praised DUP MP Gregory Campbell and his party colleagues for raising the plight of Christians in the Middle East more consistently than anyone else in the House of Commons.
During a debate on the situation in Egypt, Mr Campbell asked Dr Julian Lewis MP, “if he shares many people’s concern that religious minorities, including Christians and others, are being systematically purged, not just in thousands or tens of thousands, but in hundreds of thousands, from many nation states right across the middle east?”
Dr Lewis replied: “I endorse that, and pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman and his party colleagues for raising this question more consistently and more often than any other group of hon. Members in the House.
“They are right to do so. We have to try to take a long view of the prospects for the re-emergence of some form of moderate government in Egypt. Those of us who have been in, and aware of, politics for a long time can remember the bad old days of Nasser.”
“I am sure that some people would say, ‘Ah, but those days are likely to come back,’ but I remember that most sensible, pro-democratic people were relieved when Nasser’s successor, Sadat, showed himself willing to moderate the more extreme outlooks of Egyptian politics and to make peace with Israel.”
Mr Campbell’s colleague Nigel Dodds also spoke during the debate and said that Egypt’s new constitution - passed in January - may have increased provision for religious freedom but that for the “protection of ethnic and religious minorities, particularly Christians and Copts...the issue is the enforcement of and the abiding by those provisions and the human rights afforded to religious minorities in particular.”
DUP MP for Strangford Jim Shannon said his parliamentary aide had gone to Egypt with her husband and had come home ‘absolutely raving about it.’
But Mr Shannon said she had been entirely oblivious to the plight of Christians throughout the country.
“She had been unaware of what was happening in the rest of Egypt, as she was at a holiday destination.
“The story has been repeated over and ove. Egypt is a beautiful country with tremendous tourism potential, but anyone who has watched the news recently would think twice about going there because of the unrest,” he said.