The free exercise of religion is primarily a human rights issue. Unfortunately, the majority of EU decision-makers do not recognize the importance of this fundamental right for individuals and society, stated György Hölvényi, Christian Democrat MEP in the European Parliament’s debate on Thursday, organized on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the EU Guidelines on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
The vice-president of KDNP Hungary and Member of the European Parliament, reminded, various reports, scientific researches and field experiences show that we live in a time of unprecedented religious intolerance globally. About 84% of the world’s population identifies with some religious community. Meanwhile, since 2021, people have been killed or kidnapped in 40 countries of the world because of their faith. We have to underline that the most persecuted religion in the world today is Christianity. During the last year, according to international surveys, 5,621 Christians were killed because of their faith, 90% of the murders took place in Nigeria.
According to the EPP Group’s politician, the EU is struggling with a serious credibility problem: despite the dramatic situation, the protection of religious freedom is still not fully part of the EU’s external action. Despite the increasing persecution, the European Commission, for example, hesitated for three years to re-appoint the EU Special Envoy responsible for religious freedom outside the EU.
Real milestones are needed in the dialogue with religious communities active in the EU and in third countries. Although the legal framework is in place, no structural dialogue actually takes place before substantive EU decisions are made. MEP György Hölvényi pointed out that the joint action against increasing religious intolerance around the world cannot be delayed any longer.