May and Corbyn highlight persecution of Christians and refugee crisis in Easter messages

21 April 2019, 00:13 | Updated: 21 April 2019, 02:07

The prime minister has used her Easter message to highlight the "danger" facing Christians, while Jeremy Corbyn focused on the refugee crisis.

Theresa May says this "particularly special time" is used to "remember the powerful message at the heart of our Christian faith".

"A message of hope - of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, when we can look forward to a new life in Christ," she says.

The prime minister says she will spend Easter "as I do every year, giving thanks in church".

However, she adds that "for many Christians around the world, such simple acts of faith can bring huge danger".

"Churches have been attacked. Christians murdered. Families forced to flee their homes," she says.

"That is why the government has launched a global review into the persecution of Christians.

"We must stand up for the right of everyone, no matter what their religion, to practise their faith in peace.

"Easter is a time of reflection. For families and friends to get together and spend precious time with their loved ones.

"So let me wish everyone, of all faiths and none, a very happy and peaceful Easter."

Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn used his message to "wish everyone a happy Easter" and to talk about the refugee crisis, highlighting that Jesus was "a refugee whose parents were forced to flee their home because of a campaign of terror by a dictator, King Herod".

"Jesus went on to know what it was to be ostracised, rejected and tortured. A family forced to flee their homeland for fear of persecution," he said.

"Sadly, this is still so familiar to us today. There are 68 million refugees across the world, more people than have ever before been forced to flee persecution, war and abject poverty."

The Labour leader added that the refugee crisis is a "moral test", saying: "Jesus taught us to respect refugees. He himself said 'welcome the stranger'. And the Bible says 'the foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born'."

Mr Corbyn also took aim at the government.

"In Britain, we have a proud history of providing a safe refuge to those in need. But this government refuses to meet our legal obligations to child refugees in Europe as required by the Dubs Amendment," he said.

"At the end of last year as refugees tried to cross the Channel, Sajid Javid threatened to deploy the Navy. But in response the Bishop of Dover said 'it is crucial that we all remember we are dealing with human beings here'.

"Churches across the country support refugees, including through community sponsorship programmes. And who are campaigning to allow asylum seekers to work sooner. This is true leadership, drawing on Jesus' teachings to show us how we should approach this great moral test.

"So at this time of new hope and new aspirations we can learn from Christian values and offer the hand of friendship to welcome those in need."