Refugee children at the Sharia Al Haman Hope Refugee Camp in Duhok, Iraq, March 28, 2015. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA.
By Christine Rousselle Washington D.C., Feb 6, 2020 / 02:49 pm (CNA).- The world must raise their voices and stand up for persecuted Christians, Hungarian State Secretary for the Aid of Persecuted Christians Tristan Azbej said Thursday.
Azbej was one of eight speakers at a Feb. 6 side-event of the National Prayer Breakfast that was sponsored by the organization Save the Persecuted Christians.
“All of humanity should stand up and come to the aid of persecuted Christians,” said Azbej.
Christian lives have the same dignity as those who follow other religions, he said. He questioned why stories of Christian persecution, such as the recent murder of a Nigerian seminarian, do not make the news, but when people of other religions are discriminated against, the stories are broadcast worldwide.
“Why is (Christian persecution) not on the agenda of the United Nations, of the European Union, and so on,” he asked.
“And I know there is no such thing as competition of martyrdom, but we have to talk about the proportions,” he said, noting that nearly 300 million Christians in the world are persecuted for their faith. This, he said, represents 80% of the total number of people who face persecution for their religion, meaning Christians are “the most persecuted religious group in the world.”
“It doesn’t get even a passing mention at the major human rights forum,” he said.
As the State Secretary for the Aid of Persecuted Christians, Azbej said that he has a “two-fold” mission. His first priority, he said, is “saving lives,” which he does through the government-run nonprofit “Hungary Helps.”
The other part of his mission, he explained, is “to be the voice of those that are not heard. To be the voice of those who are suffering.”
Azbej is, in his words “the only one with a government title that has the term ‘persecuted Christians’ in it,” something that he hopes changes as more countries move to address the plight of persecuted religious groups.
He especially called on historically-Christian countries to move to protect their fellow Christians, and he accused these countries of attempting to shed their Christian identities, which Azbej said was indicative of an “identity crisis.”
Azbej explained that when he started in his position in 2016, his main focus was on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. Now, he said, his priorities have shifted to the plight of the Christian community in west Africa.
“As we have learned more about the nature and extent of Christian persecution, now we are turning more and more focused on Africa,” he said. “In west Africa, there is a genocide going on, and the whole world is turning a blind eye.”
Part of the aid work Azbej’s organization does is the rebuilding of churches and communities that have been destroyed by the Islamic State. One Northern Iraqi town renamed itself Tel Askouf, meaning “Daughter of Hungary,” in appreciation for the approximately 2 million euros ($2.2m) donated by the Hungarian government to rebuild the town.
This, said Azbej, is something that can be replicated around the world.
“We wouldn’t only want to see ‘Sons and Daughters of Hungary,’” he said. “We would like to see daughters and sons of the United Nations, or of the United States or Germany or of the European Union.”
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