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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)– Hungary’s Parliament has passed a government-initiated decree condemning the persecution of Christian around the world as well as other religious minorities. The vote came after the government began opening an office supporting persecuted Christians following talks with Pope Francis.
In the decree, the Parliament expresses “solidarity” with especially persecuted Christians in Africa and the Middle East where it says they are “impacted by terrorism or threatened in their existence”.
Hungarian lashed out at terrorist acts committed by the Islamic State group and other militants in the Middle East and “any act aimed at forcing people to change their religion”.
The decree also condemns killings of Christians and other religious minorities in Syria or Iraq, where groups such as Islamic State operate.
Authors of the government-initiated decree called Christian “the most persecuted religious community”, with attacks carried out in some 80 countries, directly threatening about 200 million Christians.
They noted that four out of five people persecuted for their faith, or some 78 percent, are Christians.
Péter Harrach, faction leader of the co-ruling Christian Democrats, said he hopes that other countries would join Hungary’s efforts to fight anti-Christian attacks.
The decree came shortly after Hungary announced as one of the first country’s in the world that it would set up a special department to coordinate the assistance and rescue of persecuted Christians around the world. Hungary’s government also pledged three million euro ($3.3 million) to help Christians worldwide.
The decision came after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán met Pope Francis and other church leaders earlier this year.
Hungary’s ambassador to the Vatican, Eduard Habsburg-Lothringen says it is part of wider efforts to help Christians.
“Hungary considers itself a Christian country and has been silently helping persecuted Christians in the Middle East for quite a while now…We are not talking loudly about it. So in a way it is very consequently that Hungary does this,” he said.
“Several of this projects have been going for quite a while. Now it is going to be more focused it is going to be more visible,” the ambassador explained.
“And we are hoping to send a signal with this: We are aware that every five minutes a Christian dies for his faith, and we want to do something about it,” he added.
Some have criticized the move saying that while Hungary claims to help Christians it has also introduced a controversial church law that recognizes only certain denominations as official churches, while also erecting a razor wire fence to halt the influx of mainly Muslim migrants fleeing war and poverty.
However supporters have made clear they view the decree condemning persecution and the office helping Christians as evidence that government is ready to tackle threats to religious freedom.