The Italian government’s battle on behalf of the defence of Christian minorities goes on. Minister Franco Frattini sent a letter to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton co-signed by the foreign ministers of France Alliot-Marie, Poland Sikorski, and Hungary Martonyi, requesting a discussion of the persecution of Christians at the 31 January meeting of the Foreign Ministers Council in Brussels, and a debate on concrete measures for the promotion of religious freedom and freedom of expression.
The letter also reiterated the responsibility to defend, in addition to the Christians in the Middle East, all the victims of threats or persecution resulting from their religion. It also reaffirms that the EU cannot remain indifferent to what has been happening over recent months and that the incitement to use, of the use itself of violence against religious groups or communities must be considered unacceptable.
The day after the suicide bombing of Christian Copts in Alexandria, Egypt on New Year’s Eve, Minister Frattini was already calling for political discussion at the next Council of EU Foreign Ministers on 31 January of violence and discrimination against Christians around the world. “These latest episodes, those of violence in Nigeria and the bombings in Alexandria, are tragic confirmation”, the minister underscored, “that the phenomenon of religious intolerance, especially against Christians but that also affects other religious minorities, has taken on an intensity and far too serious and worrying dimensions and is entirely unacceptable for anyone who cares about human rights. It is therefore time for all governments that care about individual rights, of which freedom of religion is an essential component, to voice a strong and united response”. And it is precisely for this reason that “the European Union, whose constitution places individual rights among its highest priorities, must be in the forefront in this battle”.
Over the past two years the Italian government has repeatedly urged the Union to take more decisive action in response to the numerous acts of violence against Christian minorities around the world. Thanks to these efforts, last year the European Union approved an Action Plan to foster joint member state monitoring of the treatment of religious minorities around the world. Now, according the Minister Frattini, “the time has come to make that action more concrete”.