VATICAN CITY - Terrorist attacks on Christians in Africa, the
Middle East and Asia tripled in a seven-year period, a
Vatican official told a U.N. meeting.
Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent
observer to U.N. offices in Geneva, told the U.N. Human
Rights Council that while Christians are not the only
victims, attacks on them in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia
"increased 309 percent between 2003 and 2010." He did not
offer any specific numbers.
"Approximately 70 percent of the world's population lives in
countries with high restrictions on religious beliefs and
practices, and religious minorities pay the highest price. In
general, rising restrictions on religion affect more than 2.2
billion people," the archbishop told the council members
The archbishop denounced "intolerance that leads to violence
and to the killing of many innocent people each year simply
because of their religious convictions."
In some countries, which the archbishop did not name,
religious freedom is threatened by "government-imposed and
Yet religious freedom is a fundamental and inalienable right,
which can foster a healthy cooperation and spirit of shared
responsibility among believers of different religions, he
Education and the media are two powerful tools for promoting
respect for religions and for religious freedom, he said.
Unfortunately, many countries where there is a lack of
religious freedom or outright persecution have weak schools
and weak media because of underdevelopment, poverty or a
restricted access to information.
The archbishop also said the international community can
prevent future violence by promoting and protecting the human
rights of everyone.
The international community must work, "to sustain mutual
tolerance and respect of human rights and a greater equality
among citizens of different religions in order to achieve a
healthy democracy where the public role of religion and the
distinction between religious and temporal spheres are
recognized," Archbishop Tomasi said.