EU Foreign Ministers Struggle to Clearly Condemn Persecution of Christians

February 22, 2011

At yesterday’s Foreign Affairs Council Meeting, the Ministers agreed on a Conclusion on intolerance, discrimination and violence on the basis of religion or belief. The Conclusion was prepared after a great deal of controversy erupted during their previous meeting on January 31, when five Foreign Ministers and EU High Representative Lady Ashton had refused to make any mention of Christians in a statement that was supposed to condemn the recent attacks on Christians in the Middle East. European Dignity Watch reported on this and called for action.

Yesterday’s Conclusion mentions Christians only once throughout the text—in the same breath with Muslim pilgrims and other religious communities. Nevertheless, the Conclusion reaffirms freedom of religion or belief as a basic human right which needs to be protected and underlines the intrinsic link between freedom of religion or belief, and freedom of opinion and expression.

European Dignity Watch welcomes the Council’s conclusion—but emphasizes that its one reference to Christian victims is the bare minimum. It is a carefully worded, “politically correct” statement, precisely as Lady Ashton had called for at the Council’s last meeting.

A more courageous message on the part of the European Union would have unequivocally condemned the atrocities committed exclusively on Christians. Such a statement would have been welcomed by both European citizens and the organizations working for fundamental freedoms, and would have been embraced by the victimized Christian minorities in the Middle East who need the ongoing support and solidarity of the EU.