European Union to Use 'World Watch List' as Tool to Help Protect Rights of Persecuted Christians
Contact: Jerry Dykstra, Media Relations Director, Open Doors USA, 616-915-4117, JerryD@odusa.org
SANTA ANA, Calif., March 3 /Christian Newswire/ -- According to the Christian Post, the European Union (EU) has reportedly formed an association to protect the rights of Christians in countries where they face persecution.
The European Union will possibly use an annual list of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians published by Open Doors, an international Christian ministry which supports and strengthens persecuted Christians, to help set up an initiative to protect freedom of religion in oppressive countries.
"We've set up a working group and are defining what bilateral action can be taken between Europe and the individual countries where Christians' rights are in danger," said Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini in an interview. The EU is studying which international initiatives it can adopt to bring the problem of persecution "more clearly into focus," Frattini said.
In an interview with Italian daily Avvenire and reported by the Christian Post, Frattini further indicated that the European Union would draw up a manual for EU countries' embassies in nations where persecution is present.
"By the end of April we'll have a manual for European embassies in the rest of the world, focusing in particular on the treatment of Christian religious minorities," he said.
Such a "common protocol," he noted, has never before been implemented, and if carried out will help "closely monitor the treatment of religious minorities, especially Christian minorities, in the most sensitive countries." He clarified that "monitoring" would only be in regard to religious freedom.
The EU intends to use the Open Doors' World Watch List which contains detailed analysis of Christian persecution worldwide and identifies countries where the situation regarding religious freedom ranges from "severe persecution," "serious persecution," "limitations" to "problematic." North Korea is ranked No. 1 on the 2010 World Watch List followed by Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Maldives, Afghanistan, Yemen, Mauritania, Laos and Uzbekistan. The 2010 list was released in January.
Dr. Carl Moeller, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, said: "Christians around the world are becoming more and more marginalized every year. They are caught in the crossfire in places like Iraq, Iran and North Korea. So this is a positive sign by the European Union to promote religious freedom globally.
"For the group to use the Open Doors World Watch List as their working document certainly is a testimony to the credibility of the list and the respect Open Doors has built up over the last 55 years In Europe and internationally. For years the World Watch List has been a tool to make the public aware of the degree of persecution in each country."
For a complete summary of the World Watch List, go to www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.
An estimated 100 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation. Open Doors supports and strengthens believers in the world's most difficult areas through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to our website at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.
(For more information or to set up an interview with Dr. Moeller, contact Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email email@example.com).