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#RedWednesday: Churches across the world lit in red in solidarity with persecuted Christians

(Facebook/acnphilippines.org)The Diocesan Shrine of the Our Lady of the Abandoned in Marikina, Philippines.

Hundreds of churches and other landmark buildings across the world were lit up in red on Wednesday in an effort to draw attention to the persecution of Christians and other religious minority groups.

As many as 50 buildings in the U.K., including the Houses of the Parliament and the Westminster Cathedral, have agreed to light up their facades in red as part of the #RedWednesday campaign pioneered by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

In the Philippines, more than 45 cathedrals, 24 shrines and five basilicas participated in the initiative after it was endorsed by the country's bishops' conference.

At the Manila Cathedral, Bishop Edwin Dela Peña recalled the destruction of Marawi City and likened it to the devastation in Mosul, Iraq and Aleppo, Syria following intense battles with the Islamic State terror group.

"We never thought that this persecution of Christians that started in the Middle East, the upsurge of violent terrorism and extremism of the radical Islam would come to the Philippines," he said, according to ABS-CBN News.

"Not only they burned the cathedral, they tried to make it dramatic by bringing with them cameramen to record the act of desecration," he continued.

In Iraqi Kurdistan, Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil said that his church will be lit in red and local Christians will also be participating in a prayer vigil. The bishop, whose diocese has been caring for more than 100,000 people displaced by ISIS, noted that the vigil will end in a newly opened church that will cater for the influx of refugees.

ACN stated that the campaign not only highlights the persecution of Christians but also the "injustices perpetrated against other faith groups."

John Pontifex, the spokesman for the Catholic charity, said that the initiative is also aimed at drawing attention to the role of U.N. institutions and the international community, which he said had so far "failed to help persecuted faith communities."

ACN has partnered with the London-based persecution watchdog group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) for this year's initiative.

CSW hosted an event at the Westminster Cathedral Piazza in London this year as part of the campaign to raise awareness for Christian persecution.

The national director of ACN-UK, Neville Kyrke-Smith, told the Huffington Post that his organization is "calling for people to be given the right to express and live their faith."

"In so many parts of the world today, people are denied work, housing, liberty or even their life because of their religious belief," he said in a statement.

"Aid to the Church in Need is delighted to work with CSW and others including representatives of different religious communities to stand up for faith and freedom," he added.

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