By BosNewsLife News Center in Budapest with reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)– Hungary, which holds the European Union presidency, Italy, France and Poland have urged the EU to help prevent more attacks against Christians.
In a letter, the foreign ministers of the four EU nations asked the bloc’s Foreign Policy Chief, Catherine Ashton, to take up the issue of anti-Christian violence, BosNewsLife learned Friday, January 7.
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A bomb attack on worshipers of Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority on Christmas Day in Alexandria killed 21 people and left nearly 100 wounded. Deadly attacks also hit Christians on December 25 in Nigeria and the Philippines. An attack last fall on Catholics in Baghdad claimed 68 lives.
The letter, addressed to Ashton, calls “for urgent and efficient measures” to be worked out to prevent new victims of interfaith violence.
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini had earlier called for the EU to do more to protect Christians in Muslim countries.
The letter also follows pressure from within the European Parliament. Dutch European parliamentarian Peter van Dalen of the ‘ChristenUnie’, or ChristianUnion, asked with special amendments for more attention for the reported persecution of Christians. “Four of every five persons who are persecuted for their faith are Christians and the situation in Muslim countries is especially serious,” Van Dalen said.
Van Dalen told BosNewsLife in a statement that he has urged the European Union and its member states to do more to prevent attacks against Christians.
There has been concern however that it will become more difficult for the EU to push for religious rights under Hungary’s EU presidency, following Hungarian adoption of a controversial law under which media can face huge fines if their coverage is deemed “unbalanced” or “immoral”.
Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn warned that if the European Union does not pressure Hungary to change the law, “it will be very difficult to talk to China or Iran about human rights.” The two countries are among several nations mentioned by rights groups as persecuting Christians.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban denies the law violates EU norms, but says he may be ready to accept changes to the legislation if the EU’s executive branch, the European Commission, finds aspects of the legislation not to be in line with European standards.
An estimated 200 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with another 200 to 400 million facing discrimination and alienation, according to Open Doors, an international group helping persecuted Christians and churches.