Hungary becomes first EU country to join US-led International Religious Freedom Alliance

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Hungary has joined the International Religious Freedom Alliance created by the United States, becoming the first European Union member state to do so, said Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó in Washington after the founding meeting of the alliance on Wednesday.

“We are proud that Hungary was first among European states to join this new international alliance initiated by the Americans,” Szijjártó said.

He added that the persecution of religions and religious groups is spreading all around the world, especially targeting religious groups living as a minority.

“This is a phenomenon that we must act against. The right to religion is one of the most fundamental human rights, even if the liberal mainstream doesn’t want to acknowledge the fact,” Szijjártó said. “Even major international organizations are prone to overlook the persecution of religions and religious groups. This is an unacceptable phenomenon, [because] every person should be granted the right and freedom to exercise their religion.”

He added that Hungary has been a Christian country for over a millennium, and for that reason, it takes its responsibility seriously towards the Christian communities in difficult situations or suffering persecution around the world.

He mentioned that Hungary has so far provided $50 million in aid to support Christian communities in the Middle East and Africa, rebuilding or building churches, homes, hospitals and schools. Due to the country’s efforts, some 70,000 people could stay in their native lands or return to them.

Data shows that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world. A recent report commissioned by the United Kingdom’s government states that persecution of Christians is reaching near “genocide” levels. A report issued by the U.S. State Department states that approximately 245 million Christians live under severe persecution and that four out of five people persecuted for their religion are Christians.

Another study released this year also indicated that Christian attacks are at an all-time high in Europe, with over 3,000 incidents recorded in 2019.

Hungary also hosted its second International Conference on Christian Persecution last year, where Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said Europe was “silent” about Christian persecution.

“Hungarians make up 0.2 percent of the world’s population. Does it make sense for such a small nation to stand up and act? Our answer is yes. And your presence, attention, encouragement and the fact that you are here today convinces us of this, not to mention the history of Christianity. The twelve apostles certainly represented a smaller proportion of humanity at their time than Hungarians today, yet we are all here,” Orbán said at the conference.

The new International Religious Freedom Alliance consists of 27 nations, including Israel, Ukraine, Brazil, Bulgaria, Togo, Slovenia, and Georgia.

Title image: Left to right: Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó, Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the founding meeting of the International Religious Freedom Alliance in Washington on February 5. (source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade) 

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