The number of Christians facing persecution for their faith is on the rise worldwide and the international community “must hear their cry for help”, Hungary’s state secretary in charge of aiding persecuted Christians told an international conference on Monday.
The international community must not forget about those for whom “coronavirus seems like the lesser evil” compared with an existential crisis they are forced to face every day, Tristan Azbej told an online conference organised by International Christian Concern, a Washington-based rights group.
The number of Christians facing persecution around the world has risen from 245 million to 260 million over the past year, Azbej said, adding that close to 3,000 Christians had been murdered and 3,700 arrested for their beliefs during this period. Also, nearly one hundred places of worship have been attacked, he added.
Around one-third of the world’s population faces some form of persecution over their religious beliefs, with Christians being the most persecuted community, the state secretary said.
Their situation has now also been made worse by the pandemic, Azbej said. He said that rather than encouraging persecuted communities to leave their homelands, help should be taken where the problems arise.
Hungarian FM urges joint efforts to stop persecution of Christians
The persecution of Christians must be stopped both in Europe and across the entire world, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in a video on Facebook on Monday.
Addressing an online conference organised by the International Religious Freedom Alliance, Szijjarto said the world had a greater need for Christianity’s role in building communities than ever before.
“Unfortunately Christianity is still the most persecuted religion on Earth and we should not forget about that, not even under these challenging circumstances we are experiencing now,” Szijjártó said.
Citing the latest official statistics, the minister said some 260 million Christians faced persecution in the world today and 3,000 had been killed this year. This, he said, meant that eight Christians were killed daily on average. He added that 9,500 attacks had been carried out against Christian churches or facilities this year.
“And we Europeans do have to be aware that this is not just a remote phenomenon,” he said. “This phenomenon has been here in Europe now,” Szijjártó added, noting the recent terrorist attacks in France and Austria and the vandalisation of statues of Pope John Paul II in Poland.
Szijjártó expressed his solidarity with the Polish government and Poland’s Catholic Church, saying that the “extremist attacks” against Christian communities must be stopped.
“This is a common responsibility of ours that we do have to push back these extreme anti-Christian movements,” he said.
Szijjártó also said that measures enacted against the coronavirus pandemic should not limit the right of Christian communities to practise their faith.