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Christians under attack: the EU must take urgent action now. Mario Mauro MEP

Date

04 Jan 2011

Sections

Global Europe

The European Union - through the High Representative Catherine Ashton - should immediately take concrete action in defence of religious freedom and Christians in the world.

Christmas, which should be one of the most joyous periods of the year for Christians all over the world, has coincided in recent years, and particularly in recent months, with a terrifying escalation of violence, terror and death.

"Is the target Christianity or the entire West? The answer is both simple and disturbing: Christianity and the West, to the fundamentalist groups that are tearing the Christian communities all over the world, are the enemy which must be destroyed. Characteristic of fundamentalism is to take God as a pretext for a project of power. Often, Christians are hostages and subjected to harassment and persecution, even in countries where they are 'nothing' from the social point of view. In many countries, Christianity is deliberately confused with the West for increasing the chances of success to better achieve this project of power", said Mario Mauro MEP, Head of the Italian (PDL) Delegation of the EPP Group in the European Parliament and OSCE Representative against racism, xenophobia and discrimination, especially against Christians.

"For a long time now, we have been stressing the urgency of this situation which needs to be addressed as a whole because it goes beyond the political circumstances of each individual country."

On New Year's Eve, a car bomb exploded in front of a Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt, and killed 21 people. On Christmas Eve, more than 80 Christians were killed by Islamic fundamentalist groups in several cities of Nigeria. In many other parts of the world where Christians are a minority, religious freedom is regularly trampled on in the name of power by local dictators and fundamentalist groups.

These are just the latest episodes of real persecution: statistics tell us that last year, 75% of religiously-motivated violence in the world was against Christians.

"Addressing the issue of Christians' religious freedom in the world is not simply to defend the interests of a category. Religious freedom is an objective factor of the recognition of human rights. The violence against Christians in the world represents a wound and a challenge to dignity. Addressing the religious freedom of Christians means, first of all, dealing with a major emergency of our time."

"This is why, along with my political group, the EPP Group, I have taken several concrete actions in the European Parliament in defence of freedom of religion and Christians throughout the Middle East. The European Parliament Written Declaration on Freedom of Religion and the Letter of Solidarity by the European Parliament for Christians in the Middle East - so far signed by 160 MEPs and given to the Bishops of Baghdad, Mosul and Babylon during their visit to Strasbourg last December - are some examples. Parliament also approved a Joint Resolution last November on 'Iraq - in particular the death penalty (including the case of Tariq Aziz) and attacks against Christian communities', strongly condemning the massacre of the Cathedral of Baghdad. And for Christmas, I went to Bethlehem in the Holy Land with the Vice-President of the European Parliament Gianni Pittella of the S&D Group to express solidarity with all Christians in the Middle East."

"The European Council included in its conclusions, already at the end of 2009 and as proposed by the Italian Government which has long been engaged on this front, a statement on religious freedom. But this is clearly not enough. Today, the European Union's action must become more effective and timely in defence of religious freedom, especially for the Christian communities. We must assume a leadership role within the diplomatic relations with the rest of the world."

"This leadership is not aimed at creating tensions with Islamic countries, but rather to prevent the most vulnerable of these countries from being sucked into the vortex of fundamentalism. And it is this leadership and these proposals - such as that of tying economic aid to the protection of religious and ethnic minorities - that should be defended by the European Union's High Representative for Common Foreign Policy Catherine Ashton through targeted diplomatic action aiming to open an effective dialogue with the countries where freedom of religion is most threatened."

"Europe's indifference to the Christian factor is a threat to the stability of crisis areas. The fear, or worse, the disdain for Christian presence is merely an omen of an uncertain future for our own Western world. Publicly acknowledged, however, the contribution of Christians and Catholics in society is really the guarantee of freedom and progress for all", concluded Mario Mauro MEP.

 

(Translation from the original Italian)

 

For further information:

Mario MAURO MEP, Tel: +32-2-2845387

Francesco Frapiccini, EPP Group Press & Communications Service, Tel: +32-473-941652

 

Notes to Editors:

The EPP Group is by far the largest political group in the European Parliament with 265 Members.

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