Some 650 people from 40 countries are participating in an international conference on Christian persecution, organized by the Hungarian government in Budapest.
According to their data, every day 11 Christians are killed for religious reasons. It is the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time. Globally, there are 245 million persecuted Christians, which makes Christianity the most-harassed religion on the planet.
The conference was opened by Prime Minister Viktor Orban in front of religious leaders and experts from all continents.
The Hungarian prime minister said the persecution against Christians is an organized attack, which not only occurs in Africa and the Middle East. He explained that throughout the West the Christian culture is attacked, with mockery, humiliation and politically correctness.
He added, if Christian values are not protected in Europe, in the future Christians will be persecuted in the West, like they are in Syria or Iraq.
Budapest Cardinal Peter Erdö pointed out that the persecution is not only religious, but anti-colonial and anti-West. He thanked the efforts of those who help expelled Christians return to their homeland.
Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II of the Syrian Orthodox Church recalled the dramatic situation of Christians in Iraq.
IGNATIUS APHREM II
Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East
“In all these cases and many others, Christians were given one of three choices to make: either to convert to Islam, pay the tax or leave, otherwise they would be killed. Many of them have chosen to leave. Not only in the areas where the terrorist areas and armed groups exist, but throughout the country. Our estimation is that more than 90 percent of Christian have already left Iraq and almost 50 percent of Christians in Syria have left the country.”
Lebanon’s foreign minister is also in attendance. He warned of the danger of Islamophobia, as it weakens exponents of moderate Islam, and radicalizes those who suffer its consequences.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants (Lebanon)
“We were to blame as well, through our Western culture and our ability to integrate. We express our objection toward Islamophobia, considering it as a danger of the genuine and tolerant Islam, as well as a danger on the secular West. As a result of this fear, islamophobia is a rise of the extremism in the West that will lead to more extremism in the East.”
The congress hopes to put political and social leaders in contact, while rebuilding the Christian communities in the Middle East and in Africa, where they suffer the most attacks.
Hungary leads by example and has a state secretariat fully dedicated to helping persecuted Christians. Its head, Tristan Azbej, is this meeting’s organizer. (06.20)
His department already works in seven countries in the Middle East and Africa. In Syria and Iraq, he has rebuilt hospitals and schools, as open places for people of every religion.
The International Conference on Persecuted Christians will continue in Budapest until Thursday.