By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
WASHINGTON/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief wants Hungary to share its experiences with helping persecuted Christians “with the rest of the world” amid mounting anti-Christian and anti-Jewish sentiments, a government official said.
Tristan Azbej, the Hungarian state secretary in charge of aiding persecuted Christians, added in remarks seen by Worthy News on Monday that he met U.N. Special Rapporteur Nazila Ghanea during last week’s International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington D.C.
He said Ghanea asked Hungary, the world’s only nation with a government department dedicated to persecuted Christians, to share its “unique experience” in using humanitarian aid “to assist in the survival” of these believers and other religious groups.
Azbej added that Hungary presented activities of the state secretariat for aiding persecuted Christians and the related Hungary Helps program, “which promotes freedom of religion through humanitarian aid.”
Since its inception in 2016, the Hungary Helps program has helped some 1.5 million people through 300 programs in 50 countries, many of them Christians, Azbej has said.
Some 300 million people are suffering persecution for their Christian faith worldwide, according to estimates cited by Azbej.
One in five Christians is persecuted in Africa, he said, including thousands in Nigeria last year.
The state secretary said this year’s religious freedom summit was attended by more countries than during previous gatherings, with delegates of “persecuted groups, national governments and other organizations.”
The International Religious Freedom Summit, held Tuesday and Wednesday, included an opening event at the Hungarian embassy in Washington, D.C.
During his talks, Azbej also warned that “violent anti-Semitism had reared its head again in the Western world and the U.S.” after Israel launched its war against Hamas in Gaza.
He said he shared his concerns also with U.S. Republicans as Hungary and the Hungarian government’s “values nearly fully align with those of the American right and Christian conservative American people and organizations.”
Critics have said that while Hungary claims to help persecuted Christians, it was reluctant to provide them asylum in the country, though eventually several refugees were accommodated, including from Iran, Worthy News established.
Despite these controversies, Azbej said his negotiating partners praised Hungary’s efforts “to protect Christians and its fight against anti-Semitism.”
Conservative leaders also agreed with the rightwing Hungarian government’s measures “taken in the interest of families, the institution of marriage and the protection of life.”
Yet liberal-leaning politicians complained that these policies include Hungary’s ban on LGBTQ+ education for minors.
They also questioned Hungary’s recognition in its new constitution of marriage as “between a man and a woman,” effectively excluding same-sex marriages.
However, the state secretary countered that while attending the annual U.S. National Prayer Breakfast, organizers “highlighted Hungary’s family policy and protection of persecuted Christians to the House Representatives and Senators in attendance, including Speaker of the House Mike Johnson,” an outspoken Christian.
Azbej also met Republican Senator J. D. Vance, who “had again spoken highly of the steps taken by Hungary in aiding persecuted Christians.”
Additionally, Senator Vance reportedly also agreed with Hungary that the war in Ukraine should end through peace talks, as hundreds of thousands are believed to have died since Russia invaded Ukraine some two years ago.
Hungary, seen as Russia’s closest ally within the NATO military alliance and the European Union, has also refused to deliver weapons to the country.
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