In Europe, Muslims have greater freedom to follow their faith than Christians do, the head of an anti-discrimination group has said.
Martin Kugler, Austrian historian and founder of the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe, said Christians were being marginalised on the continent while Muslims are treated much more carefully.
Speaking to ACI Prensa, the Spanish edition of the Catholic News Agency, Mr. Kugler accused Europe’s elites of pressuring Christians into hiding their faith while permitting Muslims to display theirs.
Europe has witnessed a secularist offensive, he added, but politicians have different criteria in dealing with Christians and Muslims, permitting the Islamic veil while trying to removing crosses from public places.
He cited the example of air hostesses and nurses disciplined, or sometimes even fired, for wearing small crosses, or attempts to remove nativity scenes from public places.
“The justification is separation between church and state, but in my opinion this is no more than an excuse. What European radical secularism is trying to do, in the name of tolerance and neutrality in the public square, is impose an ideology that means the expulsion of Christians from public life.”
Mr. Kugler also pointed to the rise of Islam in Europe driven by demographic change, saying it is a “great challenge” for Christian culture, but adding: “I think aggressive secularism is more dangerous for European Christians.”
“If Christians had the freedom to follow their conscience, with their schools and their rights, it would be much easier for them to confront the rise of Muslim culture.”
He referred to the words of German Chancellor Angela Merkel who said: “We do not need less Islam, we need more Christianity.”
“It is interesting that Angela Merkel made this statement, because she is not a very observant Christian,” he added.
It is also necessary for Christians to have better knowledge of their own faith if they are to have any hope of protecting it.
“Many German Christians do not know to explain the message of the bible to Muslims, or the significance of Christian celebrations such as Easter. They do not know how to explain Church teaching. There is a lack of formation and bravery on the part of European Christians.”
“Many Christian citizens, or ‘conservatives’, behave like an ‘angry majority’ instead of acting like a ‘creative minority’, forgetting that practising Christians in Europe are already a minority.”