The right to religious freedom is a human right, and respect for it is just as important as the protection of other rights, György Hölvényi, Hungarian Christian Democrat Member of the European Parliament, stressed in a statement to MTI on Wednesday.
The MEP made a statement on the annual report of the international Christian human rights organisation Open Doors, presented on Wednesday at a video conference of the EP’s Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Religious Tolerance (FoRB &RT).
He said that there are currently more than 340 million Christians who are victims of persecution and discrimination globally. He pointed out that last year more than 5,800 Christians were killed because of their faith, thousands were imprisoned and many liturgical places around the world were closed or destroyed.
One of the reasons for the persecution of Christians, he said, is that the state or government is “weak” and does not guarantee the safety of Christians. The lack of protection of Christian communities generates impunity for the persecutors, which leads to further persecution. As he pointed out, another important factor affecting Europe is the “indifference” of some international political actors, who do not pay sufficient attention to violations of fundamental rights, such as the religious freedom of Christians, when conducting diplomatic relations.
MEP György Hölvényi pointed out that persecuted Christians think of the “West” who as protecting them, but this is not happening. “The European Commission, for example, since the beginning of its current mandate in 2019, has been unable to appoint an EU special envoy for freedom of religion, even though this position was previously filled. This sends a negative message,” he added.
The Christian Democrat politician pointed out that the role of churches in peace-building and conflict resolution, as well as their leading role in humanitarian work and social tasks, should not be forgotten. Therefore, persecution of Christian churches and people, regardless of the religious beliefs of the majority in a country, is to the serious detriment of the country,” he added.
MEP György Hölvényi also pointed out that the persecution of Christians in the European Union is “not treated according to its weight”, because the EU is trying to force a kind of ideological neutrality due to misinterpreted secularisation, and thus also considers this human rights problem as a religious issue.
“Part of the European left wants to forget the Christian roots of the continent in an increasingly radical way,” he added.
According to the report presented at the video conference, 2021 was the most difficult year for Christians in the last three decades. Last year, according to official figures, 5,898 Christians were killed for their faith, and 6,175 believers were arrested, convicted or imprisoned without due process of law. According to documented cases, 3,829 Christians have been kidnapped.
The number of murders committed against Christians in 2021 increased by nearly a quarter – 24 percent – compared to the previous year. The report reveals that seven of the top ten most dangerous countries for Christians are on the African continent, where jihadist movements are on the rise. Within Africa, Nigeria has suffered the highest number of attacks on Christians, with 4,650 victims. The report also highlights India, where Hindu nationalist ideology is gaining ground.