On #RedWednesday UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak endorsed the initiative raising awareness of the plight of suffering Christians around the world after hearing the heart-rending story of a nurse who lost both legs in a jihadist attack.
At Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday (22nd November), Mr. Sunak said: “#RedWednesday is an important moment to demonstrate our solidarity with Christians and all those persecuted around the world for their religion or belief.”
He added that marking #RedWednesday was one of the recommendations of the Bishop of Truro’s review of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and that government buildings would be lit red to mark the occasion.
His remarks came as he responded to Fiona Bruce MP, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, who said on the floor of the House of Commons: “Today is #RedWednesday when we remember millions of Christians and others worldwide who are persecuted for their faith – people such as Margaret Attah, a nurse and a lovely young mother of four, who is here today from Nigeria.
“She hid behind the altar as her church service was attacked. One hundred were injured and 41 killed that day simply for being in church. Margaret lost both legs and an eye.
“Thousands more suffer similarly in Nigeria each year.”
Mrs Attah, who survived the extermist attack on St. Francis Xavier’s Church in Owo, south-west Nigeria, was in the UK as ACN’s guest of honour for the charity’s events in London.
Ahead of PMQs, Mrs. Attah and her husband Dominic spoke at an ACN drop-in event for parliamentarians which Mrs Bruce co-hosted.
Mr. Attah gave testimony to MPs and Peers, stating, “On Pentecost Sunday last year, every member of our parish went to church that day to celebrate.
“Just as Mass was finishing, we heard the first gunshots. The bandits soon realised that their guns couldn’t kill people quickly enough, so they lit dynamite and threw that into the crowd.”
Mr Attah went on to describe how, after the militants had left, he scoured the church for his wife, but walked past her multiple times without recognising her as she had been so disfigured by the jihadists’ explosives.
Mrs. Bruce also addressed the packed audience of parliamentarians: “We need to shout louder. We need to tell the world what is happening in Nigeria.
“Margaret is a very precious person, who sadly represents thousands of others who are suffering and being attacked simply because of what they believe. Both our Government, and the Government of Nigeria, need to do more to address this.”
At a Mass at St George’s Cathedral, Southwark that evening, Mrs Attah received ACN’s inaugural #RedWednesday ‘Courage to be Christian’ award from Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendia, the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain.
Dr. Caroline Hull, National Director of Aid to the Church in Need (UK), addressed those present at the Mass: “Margaret represents so many others in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere who are called to live out their faith in ways we in the West can hardly imagine. And they do it – Margaret does it – with so much dignity and love and devotion.”
#RedWednesday was also marked by a packed event in the Scottish Parliament, where ACN’s Dr John Newton and Father Emmanuel Ikpa described the jihadist attacks on Christians both in Nigeria and across the African continent.
All week, schools, churches and other institutions have been marking #RedWednesday with events highlighting Christian persecution.
Buildings all across the country have been lit red, including the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, Lambeth Palace and St George’s Cathedral.