News from Hungary

Even Christian Churches Often Do Not Dare Raise The Issue of Christian Persecution


Tristan Azbej, head of the Deputy State Secretariat for the Aid of Persecuted Christians in Hungary  participated in a conference in the Canadian capital on both the persecution of the Middle East and African Christians and the various relief efforts organised on their account. The Deputy State Secretary gave a phone interview from Ottawa to the MTI Hungarian News Agency emphasising that Christian churches often do not even raise the issue of Christian persecution nor do they dare to call things by their own names.

The forum was organised by the Hungarian Embassy with the participation of the Hungarian Ministry of Human Capacities and attended by scientists, researchers, diplomats and representatives of various Middle Eastern Christian denominations and other religions. There were also Canadian parliamentarians present. At the conference, the participants were greeted by an exhibition set up by the Deputy State Secretariat. The display presented the facts about Christian persecution and also illustrated the relief aid provided by the Hungarian government.

It is not the first conference and exhibition of this kind organised by Hungary. Tristan Azbej said that at this conference participants were studying new facets of persecution while also pondering the question as to why Christian churches themselves fail to raise the matter of Christian persecution and why they do not call things by their own names.

“There is a sense of guilt in Western Christians that points the finger of guilt at Christian churches for all the sins committed —from the crusades to colonialism. Even today the churches acquiesce to the neo-liberal belief that Christianity is an aggressive religion,” said Tristan Azbej. 

Summarising the matter, he added that Christian churches do not dare say that persecution is the responsibility of the extreme Islamists. The Deputy Secretary of State underlined that they much appreciate the honest and straightforward statements of Hungary and everything the Hungarian government has done to help persecuted Christians.

“It is difficult to narrow down to a single country or region where Christians are in trouble.

Currently Christians are persecuted in over eighty countries; however, greatest attention is given to those who live in the Middle East,” said the Deputy State Secretary.

He also mentioned that ten years ago, the number of Syrian Christians exceeded two million. Today only eight hundred thousand remain and most of them are internally displaced in their homeland.

The greatest loss however has been suffered by Iraqi Christians. Their communities accounted for another 1.5 million people in 2004. Today that number has been reduced to three hundred thousand.  “Even the number of Coptic Christians has halved,” Tristan Azbej remarked.

“Our primary task today is to discover how to break through the wall of silence,” the politician said to the MTI.

He pointed out that if Christian Democrats are to be honest and consistent then it is important that they invite representatives of other religions to help solve the problem. He also mentioned that during the conference he experienced some thoughtful gestures: Muslims stood up for Christianity, placing the responsibility for the persecution on extremist Islamists. “One of the Shiites of Syria has said that Christian persecution is not the problem of Christians but of Muslims, and all good-natured Muslims must stand by the Christians,” Tristan Azbej reported. The State Deputy Secretary also said that the meeting was attended by leaders of Eastern Christian churches with whom he had separately involved in an exchange of views, as well as representatives of the Jewish denomination who also stood up for persecuted Christians during the discussions.  “Just as Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, had already been a party to this,” Tristan Azbej added.

The discussion also concerned concrete co-operation about the sharing of theoretical issues and knowledge while the matter of aiding Christians living in and around Ethiopia was also discussed.

Tristan Azbej presented to the mostly conservative Canadian Parliamentarians a copy of the Hungarian Parliamentary resolution.

This resolution states that Christian persecution is considered to be genocide by Hungary and calls upon the Hungarian government to oppose it. The lawmakers have pledged to initiate programmes like the Hungarian one in the Canadian government.


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