President Trump’s executive order on refugees will “set back, not privilege, the cause of persecuted Christians,” claims a leading US academic.

The US policy will “undermine the credibility of these Christians’ appeals to universal human rights, makes their protests look like special pleading and hinders their already difficult task of gaining sympathy from human rights groups, the mainstream media, Western governments and international organizations,” claims Professor Daniel Philpott, a specialist on religion and politics at the University of Notre Dame, in a letter to the Notre Dame Observer.

He also claims the policy confirms the argument by recruiters of terrorists that the US “wishes to fight a clash of civilizations between the West and Islam”.

Philpott, who also helps run Under Caesar’s Sword, a global research project investigating how Christian communities respond to repression, adds that the policy “suffocates the narrative…of solidarity between Christians and Muslims in common cause against violence and persecution”.

One of the key findings by Under Caesar’s Sword, he says, is that “Christians often respond to persecution by forming bonds with people of other faiths as a bulwark against extremists”.