Top European politician: We can no longer ignore persecution of Christians

Christians are the world's most persecuted group and Europe can no longer ignore their plight, according to Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz attends a debate on Paris attacks and anti-terror measures in Strasbourg, France.Vincent Kessler/Reuters

Speaking at a meeting to discuss religious discrimination and attacks, Schulz said the persecution of Christians is undervalued and has not been properly addressed.

Vice-President Antonio Tajani, referring to the need to protect Christians from persecution, also warned that Europe sometimes "falls into the temptation of thinking we can ignore this task."

According to the human rights organisation Open Doors, 150 million Christians worldwide suffer torture, rape and arbitrary imprisonment. Among those being persecuted most severely at the moment are Christians in Iraq, Pakistan, North Korea and Nigeria. Many of the persecutors are Islamic extremists. 

Tajani said: "Each month 200 churches and places of worship in the world are attacked and destroyed. Every day and in every region of the world, there are new cases of persecution against Christians. No religious community is as subject to hatred, violence and systematic aggression as the Christians."

Religion could be the solution as well as the problem, he added. "In the name of religion, we have an obligation to condemn all those who show contempt for life and kill in the name of God. Whoever shoots in the name of God, shoots against God."