UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to defend persecuted Christians around the world and their ‘right to practise their faith’.
In his first Christmas message as Prime Minister, Mr Johnson said he wanted to remember those who were unable to celebrate the festival publicly or were jailed because of their religious beliefs.
He said his Government would ‘stand in solidarity’ with Christians everywhere.
In a video filmed in front of a Christmas tree in Downing Street, Mr Johnson said he wanted to wish everyone a ‘merry little Christmas’.
He added: ‘It’s that special time of year when, whatever has gone before, we can take an opportunity to celebrate all that is good in the world and to spend time with our friends and family. I hope you are all enjoying a wonderful break with your loved ones, sharing gifts and tucking into some delicious food.’
The PM praised NHS workers, police and civil servants who are working through the holidays, and expressed his gratitude to members of the Armed Forces on deployments, and to their friends, family and children who have an ’empty chair at the table’.
He stressed the day’s religious significance, both in Britain and other countries: ‘Christmas Day is, first and foremost, a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a day of inestimable importance to billions of Christians.
‘Today of all days, I want us to remember those Christians around the world who are facing persecution.
‘For them, Christmas Day will be marked in private, in secret, perhaps even in a prison cell. As Prime Minister, that’s something I want to change.
‘We stand with Christians everywhere, in solidarity, and will defend your right to practise your faith.’