Hungarian MEP György Hölvényi, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences, human rights experts, and others have lambasted leftist MEPs after they adopted a “hijacked” report on the “persecution of minorities on the grounds of belief or religion,” at a plenary session in Strasbourg on Tuesday, May 3rd.
Rather than adopting the report’s original draft, which underscored the extent of anti-Christian persecution across the globe and referred to religion as a “human right” and “often a last bastion of liberty,” the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs submitted and adopted a draft which excised nearly all references to Christianity, characterized religion as a threat to free society, and claimed it is a primary “driver of conflict worldwide.”
The second draft, adopted by the leftist-dominated Parliament, did, however, contain several references to the need to protect minorities like atheists, secularists, and humanists.
In a press release published following the European Parliament’s vote to adopt what has been described as a “hijacked report,” Hungarian MEP György Hölvényi explained:
This week, the European Parliament’s plenary adopted a report, which, after many years, could have taken a strong action in defense of religious minorities suffering persecution.
Instead, the ideological ‘pressure’ of the radicalizing European left has undermined the original intention of the report. It has prevented the document from effectively condemning religious persecution in line with its initial aim, and prevented it from drawing attention to religious persecution and also to the plight of Christians who are the most persecuted for their faith.
The original intention of the report has been reversed, and instead of protecting religious minorities who are suffering from persecution, they are the ones who are blamed for abusing religious freedom and being against normality. The political left in the European Parliament has used the document to blame religious leaders for violating human rights and misusing the religion to impose discriminatory policies to undermine the rights of LGBTIQ people, the rights of women and girls, and to restrict their access to education and sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The left is putting pressure on the European Parliament to degrade religious freedom. This is discrimination against fundamental human rights, a serious violation of freedom of speech regardless of belief or non-belief. We are witnessing a restriction of freedom of expression unprecedented even in Communist times, which cannot be supported under any circumstances. It is an unfortunate fact that during the vote, keeping in mind the original goal of the report, many did not notice the leftist trap against freedom of religion and freedom of speech.
Other key figures have echoed MEP Hölvényi’s grave concerns about the report, including Father Manuel Enrique Barrios Pietro, the General Secretary of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), and Slovakian MEP Miriam Lexmann.
“I cannot help but express my dismay at the way this report has been hijacked to stigmatize religion itself,” said MEP Lexmann.
Fr. Manuel Barrios Prieto, for his part, released the following statement in a COMECE press release:
The right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion as well as the inherent right to life are fundamental human rights recognized in international law. They are above political consensus, as their direct source is the inalienable human dignity of every human being. It is the responsibility and the duty of political authorities, including the European Parliament, to protect, defend and promote them worldwide, as well as all the other internationally recognized human rights rooted in the human dignity outlined in the International Bill of Human Rights.
Any attempt to undermine the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion and the right to life through abusive interpretations that unduly restrict their legitimate scope or to subject them to newly created and non-consensual “so-called human rights”, including abortion, constitutes a serious violation of the international law that discredits the European Union before the international community and before millions of European citizens.
Any treatment of these human rights as second-class rights contradicts the Declaration and Programme of Action of the 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights, which calls on the international community to consider all human rights “in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing, and with the same emphasis.”
Furthermore, this motion for resolution, in its current wording, will not be of help for millions of religious believers who are victims of persecution because of their faith, in particular vulnerable women and girls, as their situation will be obscured and rendered invisible by prioritizing other political interests.
Robert Semonsen is a political journalist based in Central Europe. His work has been featured in various English-language news outlets in Europe and the Americas. He has an educational background in biological and medical science. His Twitter handle is @R_Semonsen.