Afghanistan’s Christians ‘completely ignored’ in European Parliament resolution

CNA_54b530740ba73_44984.jpg The European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on Nov. 25, 2014. Credit: Alan Holdren/CNA.

A member of the European Parliament said on Thursday that the EU’s law-making body “completely ignored” the plight of Afghanistan’s Christian minority in a recent resolution.

Carlo Fidanza, the co-chair of the parliament’s Intergroup on Freedom of Religion and Belief, said that the resolution adopted on Sept. 16 showed Europe’s general indifference to Christians.

He said: “This resolution demonstrates once again the guilty lack of attention by Europe, not only to Afghan Christians -- who are completely ignored by the text -- but to Christians in general.”

The Italian politician recalled that the European Parliament rebuffed a proposal in June for an annual observance raising awareness about religious liberty.

“As I have already said on the rejection of the establishment of a European Day for Religious Freedom, it is worrying that it is now considered normal that a silence falls upon the tragedy faced by persecuted Christians,” he said.

The resolution, passed in Strasbourg, France, said that the European Parliament was “appalled” by reports of the Taliban’s actions against “women and girls, human rights defenders, LGBTI+ people, religious and ethnic minorities, journalists, writers, academics and artists.”

The resolution mentioned the Shia Hazaras as an example of a persecuted minority, but it did not specifically refer to the country’s Christians.

Fidanza, an MEP for North-West Italy, expressed concern that failing to highlight faith could “lead politics to be timid towards regimes that violate religious freedom on a daily basis.”

The post of EU religious freedom envoy is currently vacant after the incumbent, Christos Stylianides, stepped down after just months in the role. The position had previously remained unfilled for two years.

Adina Portaru, senior counsel for the Christian legal group ADF International in Brussels, welcomed the European Parliament resolution as a “positive step towards action.”

“We urge the international community to make every attempt to secure the safety of those who face grave danger, simply on account of their faith,” she said.

ADF International estimates that 10,000 Christians are living in danger following the Taliban takeover of the country of 38 million people that lies at the crossroads of Central and South Asia. Most have converted from Islam to Christianity, an act punishable by death under Sharia Law.

The legal group said there were credible reports that Taliban forces were killing Christians discovered using public transportation and executing those found with the Bible on their cell phones.

One young Afghan Christian recently contacted CNA, saying that the Taliban were searching for him as he desperately sought to leave the country.

Giorgio Mazzoli, a legal officer representing ADF International at the United Nations, said: “The UN Human Rights Council must address the concerns raised by the European Parliament by establishing a mechanism tasked with monitoring the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, focusing particularly on the human rights of vulnerable persons such as those belonging to religious minorities.”

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