We want to demolish the wall of silence surrounding persecuted Christians!
“Many deny the existence of Christian persecution, although it is a proven fact that 250 thousand people are being persecuted for their Christian faith”, State Secretary for the Aid of Persecuted Christians and the Realisation of the Hungary Helps Program Tristan Azbej declared in Washington on Thursday in an interview after taking part in the annual National Prayer Breakfast. “We have once again confirmed that the U.S. administration regards Hungary as a priority partner in the fight for religious freedom”.
The Prayer Breakfast in Washington is a major political event, and this year’s breakfast was also attended by guests from over 140 countries.
Tristan Azbej highlighted the importance of the fact that the ecumenical program that stretches over several days is attended by politicians and religious individuals who profess different or opposing views and who are at odds with each other, but who put aside their differences to concentrate on the teachings of faith that develop human relations.
“I cannot deny that the event’s spiritual aspects were also attractive, but as a member of the government delegation I strove to find as many allies as possible for the Hungary Helps Program, and to find new friends, supporters and allies for Hungary”, the State Secretary told Hungarian news agency MTI.
The politician said his negotiations, during the course of which he held talks with members of the U.S. administration, had been successful.
“We discussed how Hungary can become involved in the international efforts led by the United States to protect religious freedom. What we can add to this is our unique Hungarian approach, the fact that we are handling the provision of aid to the world’s most persecuted religious group, Christianity, as a priority”, he said, stressing that many are prepared to turn a blind eye to the persecution of Christians. “There are various reasons for this, which we regard as immoral”, he stated.
The State Secretary underlined that Hungary can also contribute to the American initiative with its unique practices, that other governments are not using with relation to international aid. “The essence of our method is that we work directly with religious institutions, and with so-called good faith organisations”, he underlined.
Mr. Azbej also pointed out that the Americans have transposed several elements from the Hungary Helps Program. He held talks on joint experiences in Iraq and further cooperation opportunities with several U.S. officials, including the State Department’s Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Tibor Nagy, who is of Hungarian origin. Thanks to the talks, American-Hungarian cooperation is also expected to be launched to protect persecuted Christians in Africa.
“The Hungarian government is not capable of saving all of the Christians who are being discriminated against and persecuted in over 80 countries around the world, and nobody can expect this of us”, the State Secretary said. “The goal of our mission it to also mobilize other governments in the interests of the cause, and this requires that we demolish the wall of silence surrounding persecuted Christians”, he stated.
“Many deny the existence of Christian persecution, although it is a proven fact that 250 thousand people are being persecuted for their Christian faith”, he added.
“For this reason, I held a lecture on the Hungary Helps Program and our experiences at an event held on the sidelines of the Prayer Morning, hosted by the Save the Persecuted Christians Alliance organisation”, he told the press.
“After meeting with witnesses and U.S. opinion leaders, we agreed that in order to turn the attention of the world to this issue and provoke action, very many of us must take a stand in support of persecuted Christians and a great many people must declared that the dignity of Christian people is no less valuable than that of anybody else around the world”, he highlighted.
In reply to a question concerning to what extent Hungary’s possibilities with relation to aiding persecuted Christians will be helped by its joining the International Religious Freedom Alliance, Mr. Azbej said: “It was a very important message, that Hungary was the first member state of the European Union to join the initiative”.
“As a result, we have once again confirmed that the U.S. administration regards Hungary as a priority partner in the fight for religious freedom”, he underlined, adding that the fact that it is mainly Central European member states who have joined the initiative is an interesting trend.
With relation to the expected reaction from the part of the European Union, the State Secretary stressed that Hungary would also like to influence the community’s international aid policy via other channels.
“Unfortunately, in the recent period when we have raised our voice at the European Union’s forums in support of persecuted Christians, we have experienced rigid resistance. They have either downplayed the persecution of Christians or have denied its existence altogether.
Our goal is for them to also concern themselves with the millions of people who are suffering in neighbouring regions, because if the European Union wants to be an international player that carries some weight, it must also behave accordingly within the field of humanitarian aid. This is one of the reasons why we are calling on them to transpose Hungarian practice, which according to our standpoint is often the only opportunity for European donations to actually reach vulnerable communities”, Mr. Azbej stated.