Religious freedom is a fundamental right
Religious freedom is a fundamental right that we need to stand for. After the recent attacks against Christians in Iraq and Egypt, it is vitally urgent that the Czech Republic voices its concern and takes a strong position on the level of the European Union.
The recent attacks against Christians are not isolated cases. Statistics on religious freedom in recent years show that the majority of acts of religious violence are perpetrated against Christians. The situation has become more serious in the Middle East, especially in Iraq where persecution could lead in the coming months to the disappearance of Christian communities.
Therefore the Czech Bishops´ Conference urges the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Karel Schwarzenberg, to explicitly condemn the persecution of Christians.
On the 31st January, the 27 Foreign Ministers of the EU failed to agree on a joint declaration condemning religious persecution, due to the fact that some countries opposed a specific reference to Christians as victims of religious persecution.
On Monday 21st February, Mr Karel Schwarzenberg, will participate in Brussels in the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting. On this occasion, the Ministers will discuss again the draft declaration condemning ‘intolerance, discrimination and persecution on the basis of religion or belief’.
We expect the Council of Ministers of the EU to adopt next Monday a declaration explicitly condemning persecution against Christians and providing concrete measures to counteract the present situation - this would be in line with the firm and explicit stance taken on the issue by the European Parliament (on 20 January 2011) and the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (on 27 January 2011).