Wien, 9. December 2011 Press release

Waldner: „Protection of the rights of religious minorities is a test for Egypt’s democratic ability“

State Secretary met with Coptic Catholic Cardinal Naguib

Vienna, 9 December 2011 – „The respect of religious freedom and the protection of religious minorities constitute a priority of our foreign policy“, said State Secretary Wolfgang Waldner during the meeting he had today with the Patriarch of Alexandria and Head of the Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt, Cardinal Antonios Habashy Naguib.The meeting with the State Secretary marked the conclusion of the Cardinal’s one-week visit to Austria at the invitation of the Dreikönigsaktion, the aid organization of the Catholic Children’s Movement in Austria.

Cardinal Naguib expressed his thanks for the long-standing aid project of the Dreikönigsaktion in Egypt in the areas of social development, health, and strengthening the role of women.In view of the ongoing transition process and the imminent establishment of a constitution in Egypt, the Cardinal stressed the need to guarantee the rights of religious minorities.According to the Cardinal, the situation in Egypt today is confusing.The main source of worry is the security vacuum.In recent months, Christians have increasingly become the target of violent attacks.

State Secretary Waldner reassured Cardinal Naguib that Austria raises its voice in favour of the protection of Christians and the freedom of religion at every given opportunity.„The protection of the freedom of religion and worship constitutes a priority in the human rights policy of Austria and the European Union.We shall use the opportunity of our membership in the UN Human Rights Council until 2014 to put an emphasis on the protection of religious minorities and to make sure that this topic receives the appropriate attention in the highest human rights body and beyond“, stressed Waldner, who also pointed out to the clear statements by Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger on the discrimination of Christians in the Middle East.

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