The Evening Standard has published an opinion piece by author Rupert Shortt, in which he argues that Christmas this year will be a time of worry for many Christians in countries ‘from Morocco to Pakistan’ in which Christians cannot worship without harassment.

He goes onto argue that religion is not solely to blame.

“Islamist extremism is in any case more a political than a religious phenomenon, just as the troubles in Northern Ireland had more to do with legacies of British imperialism and Irish nationalism than with questions of faith”, Shortt argues.

He said that religions are a source of enormous social capital, and emphasised the positive role that faith can bring in fostering love and forgiveness.

Two years ago, World Watch Monitor published a review of Shortt’s book, ‘Christianophobia: A Faith Under Attack’, which warns against blaming religion alone for the violence in the Middle East and Nigeria, as violence is endemic to humanity.