Didier Reynders meets the Support Committee for Eastern Christians

date: 31 July 2014

Support Committee for Eastern Christians

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders met on July 30 a delegation of representatives of the Support Committee for Eastern Christians. This Committee was established on 28 July in response to the deteriorating situation of Christians in the region. It brings together members of different Christian communities of the East present in our country: Armenians, Chaldeans, Copts, Melkites, Maronites and Syriac.

Minister Reynders reiterated his grave concern over the growing threats and violence against the Christian minority in many countries in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Iraq, but also in Egypt. Today there are 35,000 displaced families in northern Iraq evicted from their homes and stripped of all their possessions. Morevover, members of indigenous Christian communities are emigrating massively. Christians declined from 1.5 million in 2003 to 350,000 today in Iraq. This movement began nearly a hundred years ago throughout the region and is accelerating today.

Didier Reynders reiterated its strongest condemnation of the atrocities and crimes committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Any support to this organisation, considered a terrorist organisation by the United Nations and the European Union, must be stopped because it is a threat not only against the countries of the region but also against humanity. More must be done at European level as well as through Belgian humanitarian assistance to populations in distress.

The Minister confirmed his commitment to continue efforts already undertaken, both at Belgian and European level, so that rights of members of Christian communities are respected, including freedom of religion, freedom of worship and the protection of cultural heritage.

In this context, Minister Reynders called for the mobilisation of all the religious and secular communities in Belgium. They must condemn violations of freedom of religion or belief in the Arab world, so that the Christians of the East, but also other faiths, can enjoy the same rights and protection as Muslims and Jews do in Belgium.