Péter Szijjártó: Hungary is a Christian country – and we are proud of that
The Hungarian Government is continuing its policy of supporting Christian communities in the Middle East, said Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, on Thursday in Washington.
According to MTI Hungarian News Agency the head of the Hungarian Ministry for Foreign Affairs reported that the US Department of State has organised a conference to safeguard religious communities and ensure worldwide freedom of religion. According to the Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, this debate is to be held every year, since promoting religious freedom across the globe is of prime priority for the Trump Administration. Eighty countries are represented at the conference, with twenty ministers attending.
The minister emphasised that “Hungary is a Christian country; furthermore, we are proud of our Christianity! That is why we are speaking out about the importance of protecting Christian communities at this event. We reject as strongly as possible, the idea that being anti-Christian, or call it ‘Christianophobia’ is an internationally acceptable form of discrimination.” Péter Szijjártó declared: “We stand up for Christians – they have the same right to freedom of religion and a peaceful life, just like any other religious community in the world”.
He also said that because of terrorist organisations and in particular the Islamic State, “Christian communities are subject to unprecedented persecution and suffering in the Middle East.” The minister noted that in the past few years, hundreds of thousands of Christian families had been forced to leave their homes. These families were displaced from the land they had lived on, in peace and tranquillity, for several centuries; lands that were home to the very first religious communities in the area.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that it is therefore of high importance to annihilate the Islamic State. “We can not rest until the international community has ensured that the persecutions of Middle East Christians has ended, and the people can safely return to their homes and communities where they can enjoy equal rights with all the other religious communities of the area.”
He explained that the Hungarian government would continue its policy of supporting these Christian communities in the Middle East.
Over the last two years, 4.5 billion Hungarian Forint, – about 16 million dollars – have been devoted to supporting Christian communities in the region so that they do not have to leave their homes.
The head of the Ministry said that under the patronage of an internationally renowned project, “Hungary Helps” the ruined houses of 991 Christian families in Telskuf, Iraq have been rebuilt. The project is trying to counteract the “outrageous process that has caused the number of Christian communities in Iraq to fall by two-thirds in the past fifteen years”, he explained.
He added that Hungary is also involved in renovating thirty-one Christian churches in Lebanon, supporting Christian schools, hospitals and churches in the Middle East, and renewing an orphanage in cooperation with Poland.