Nick Benson

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Muslim MP to run marathon to beat Christian persecution

Rehman Chishti, the MP for Gillingham and Rainham, has announced that he will run this year’s London Marathon for a charity which helps persecuted Christians.

Mr Chishti said he was running for Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) because of its “fantastic” work.

The MP, who is the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, said: “The work ACN does is fantastic and I am delighted to support what they do to help Christians persecuted for their faith.”

Mr Chishti, a Muslim, described how he had liaised with the Catholic charity in defence of Christian woman Asia Bibi, who was on death row for blasphemy in Pakistan.

He added: “I worked closely with ACN on the Asia Bibi case and, when the charity brought her family over to the UK in 2018, they invited me to meet them.”

Mr Chishti resigned in November 2018 as Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party and the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Pakistan, citing the UK’s refusal to grant Asia Bibi sanctuary as one of the reasons for his resignation.

Asia Bibi’s conviction has since been overturned. She is now in Canada with her family.

Neville Kyrke-Smith, National Director ACN (UK), welcomed Mr Chishti’s announcement, saying it was a sign that Christian persecution is being taken more seriously.

He said: “I am delighted that Mr Chishti will run this year’s London Marathon for ACN.

“Not only is it an opportunity to raise money for our projects supporting persecuted Christians, but it will also raise the profile of a vital issue in need of much more recognition.”

Mr Chishti was a keynote speaker at ACN’s #RedWednesday campaign for religious freedom in his role as special envoy for religious freedom.
Mr Chishti said ending religious persecution “is a priority for the Prime Minister.”

• Details of how to sponsor Mr Chishti will be available shortly. For information about Aid to the Church in Need, visit www.acnuk.org

Picture: John Pontifex, Head of Press & Information, Aid to the Church in Need (UK) and Neville Kyrke-Smith, National Director, Aid to the Church in Need (UK), hand Rehman Chishti, a t-shirt to run the marathon in. (Aid to the Church in Need).

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OTHER NEWS

Tanzanian Catholic churches remain open despite worldwide closures

Catholic Churches in Tanzania are remaining open alongside other churches, even as the rest of world shuts places of worship to stem the spread of Covid-19. Church sources said thousands of people have been turning up for public Masses after an earlier presidential...

Pope sets up new commission to study women deacons

Pope Francis has established a new ‘Study Commission on the Female Diaconate’ as a follow-up to a previous group that studied the history of women deacons in the New Testament and the early Christian communities. Cardinal Giuseppe Petrocchi of Aquila will serve as...

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The Covid-19 quarantines, lockdowns and stay-at-home orders are the perfect opportunity for conversion: for individuals, for the Church and for governments, Pope Francis said in an interview. "What we are living now is a place of 'metanoia' (conversion), and we have...

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Jesus chose to reveal his divine majesty not through miracles or wondrous deeds but on the cross where God's love for humanity was manifested, Pope Francis said. Throughout his ministry, Christ walked away when people wish to proclaim him king and silenced demons he...