LONDON, FEB. 3, 2011 (Zenit.org).- A national director of a charity group that assists persecuted Christians is deploring the failure of the E.U. foreign affairs council to agree on a statement condemning religious persecution and anti-Christian violence.
On Monday, a group of 27 foreign ministers met to discuss stepping up measures to promote religious liberty. Other European institutions already made similar resolutions, but due to unresolved discussion about including a specific reference to anti-Christian violence, the ministers did not come to agreement on a statement.
The U.K. national director of Aid to the Church in Need, Neville Kyrke-Smith, said the politicians “need to acknowledge the reality of the persecution facing many Christians in the world today and not hide the issue because of religious correctness.”
Kyrke-Smith referred to a six-month “growth in oppression and violence being used against Christians — such as the arrest of about 70 Christians in Iran shortly after Christmas.” He said the issue “needs to be seriously addressed.”
Catherine Ashton, E.U. High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, refused to use the word “Christian" in the statement, asserting that it was not politically correct to name a specific religious group as the victim of attacks.
Kyrke-Smith said such a refusal “stems from a false liberalism that undermines true freedom.”
France backed Italy on the need to include references to specific religious minorities, including Christians and Muslim groups.
Aid to the Church in Need welcomed the suggestion to name other religious groups as well, though emphasizing the “seriousness of the situation faced by Christian communities.”
“In several countries where Christians are oppressed they are not alone in suffering — in Iraq, for example Yezidis, and Mandaeans have also been hit by extremists over the last few years,” Kyrke-Smith stated. “But as Archdeacon Emanuel Youkhana told Aid to the Church in Need, Christians in Iraq are being specifically targeted at the current time, and saying the recent attacks — in which more than 50 people were killed — are not aimed at the Christianity community belittles their suffering.”