Vienna, 28 October 2008 - "Threatening, persecuting and displacing people because of their religious beliefs is unacceptable. The latest events in northern Iraq are not only alarming, they also cast a shadow on the building of an open and democratic society in Iraq," stated Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik today, commenting on the events in the city of Mosul in northern Iraq. According to information provided by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as many as 13,000 Christians have fled the city in the past two weeks following assaults and threats to their life.
The Foreign Minister referred to the European Union’s commitment to the protection of the legitimate rights of the Christian minority in Iraq. "We, too, are providing consistent support for the rights of Christians in Iraq. At the EU’s initiative, clear protective rights for religious minorities were integrated in the Iraqi constitution. What is imperative now is to assist with their practical implementation in everyday life. The EU is appealing to the Iraqi government to offer effective protection to Iraqi Christians and call the perpetrators to account," stated Plassnik. "Diversity and pluralism do not constitute a danger to our societies but are a source of strength for development, progress and peace. This also holds true for Iraq," concluded Plassnik.
Contact: Federal Ministry for European and International AffairsPress Department Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3262, 4549, 4550Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213 abti3(at)bmeia.gv.at