Intolerance towards Christians in Europe highlighted in resolution
The resolution, proposed by a Baptist politician and calling for more acceptance of religious pluralism, has been overwhelmingly adopted in the Council of Europe
The resolution, proposed by Moldovan politician and former president of the European Baptist Federation Valeriu Ghiletchi, called for “a culture of tolerance based on the acceptance of religious pluralism”, as well as the promotion of the concept of reasonable accommodation.
His report was entitled 'Tackling intolerance and discrimination in Europe with a special focus on Christianity'. Its introduction stated that "freedom of religion is a fundamental right and one of the foundations of a democratic and pluralist society".
‘However, acts of hostility, violence and vandalism targeting Christians and their places of worship are insufficiently taken into consideration and condemned,’ it continued.
During his presentation to the Parliamentary Assembly Mr Ghiletchi highlighted a number of cases where Christians had been discriminated against, and argued that in current times we need “more freedom of religion, not less”.
‘The goal is to raise awareness and encourage and promote the culture of living together, wether someone believes or not,’ he said.
‘Europe should be a model to other places in the world, to show what it means to respect religious freedom.’
One of those speaking in the debate last Thursday (29 January) was the Ukrainian Baptist politician Pavel Unguryan, who cited incidents of intolerance and persecution at the hands of Russian rebels. He asked for better protection of Christian minorities, including more facilities to register officially and the ability to distribute religious literature.
Members voted overwhelmingly in favour of the report, with 67 for and only two against.
The resolution’s adoption was welcomed by the charity CARE Europe, which worked alongside Mr Ghiletchi on the report.
In a statement on the group’s Facebook page its director Paul Moynan described the vote as “a great result”, adding, ‘This resolution sets the clear signal the before all employers, government officials and all European citizens of the 47 member states, to take account of religious faith and rights, not only on holydays but on every day of the week.’
The Council of Europe is an advisory international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe. It is an entirely separate body from the European Union. One of its bodies includes the European Court of Human Rights, which enforces the European Convention on Human Rights.