The Hungarian government is continuing its policy of supporting Christian communities in the Middle East, the foreign minister said after attending a conference on religious freedom and the protection of religious communities organised by the US State Department in Washington, DC late on Thursday.
Speaking to MTI by phone, Péter Szijjártó said the annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom was attended by representatives from 80 nations, including 20 ministers. Szijjarto quoted US Vice-President Mike Pence as telling the conference that religious freedom was a top priority of the Trump administration.
Szijjártó also addressed the event, speaking about the importance of protecting Christian communities.
“The context cropping up in international public discourse that anti-Christianity is the last acceptable form of discrimination is unacceptable,” the minister said. “We reject this in the strongest terms.”
“We stand by our view that Christians have just as much right to religious freedom and a safe life as any other religious community in the world.”
Szijjártó added, at the same time, that Middle East Christian communities face “unparalleled persecution and suffering” at the hands of terrorist groups like the Islamic State. Over the past several years, hundreds of thousands of Christian families have been forced to leave their homes because of these groups, he said.
This is why it is so crucial to completely eliminate the Islamic State, he said, adding, however, that
“we cannot rest until the international community ensures that Christians forced to flee their homes in the Middle East can return to their homes” and “exercise equal rights” with other communities in the region.
Hungary will continue its policy of supporting Christian communities in the Middle East, Szijjártó said, noting the allocation of 4.5 billion forints (EUR 13.8m) in central government spending in support of these communities over the past two years.