By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
Christians have suffered attacks in Iraq as shown in these file photographs.
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)-- Hungary has urged the European Union and the NATO military alliance to help protect the Christian community in Iraq as hundreds of thousands of believers are fleeing Islamic State militants.
In a letter, monitored by BosNewsLife Wednesday, August 13, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán asked EU President Herman Van Rompuy "to intervene to protect" Christians in Iraq.
"The Hungarian government is deeply concerned about the brutal violence that threatens the very existence of Iraq’s Christian community," Orbán wrote in his letter to Rompuy, who leads the European Council.
He asked Rompuy to include a discussion of the Christian community’s situation in Iraq on the agenda of the European Council’s next meeting at the end of August.
His center-right government also proposed that the situation of Christians in Iraq should be on the agenda at a NATO meeting this week.
The Hungarian Foreign Ministry will also deliver aid to Iraq, in cooperation with the United States, said Hungarian State Secretary Péter Szijjártó.
It comes amid concern that fighters of what is officially known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group overran Iraq's biggest Christian towns Qaraqosh, as well as the Christian towns Tilkaif and Al Kwair in Nineveh Province, witnesses said.
ISIL militants published video footage of executions, while fighters were also seen pulling down church crosses and burning manuscripts, as part of their self declared campaign to establish a strict Islamic state in areas of Iraq and Syria.
"At least 200,000 Christians are now thought to be fleeing towards the Iraqi Kurdistan region," aid group Barnabas Fund told BosNewsLife last week.
Other religious minorities in Iraq are also suffering, including tens of thousands of members of the Yezidi minority stranded on Mount Sinjar, where many have died, prompting U.S. President Barack Obama to order air strikes.
Hungary, a former Communist country where devoted Christians were persecuted in the past, has made clear it wants to promote religious freedom around the world.
However Orbán's efforts have been overshadowed by international criticism over his perceived autocratic style and controversial laws that the EU and United States says threatens the independence of churches, media, courts and central bank.
Orbán's Fidesz party, which has a two-third majority parliament, has denied wrongdoing saying the laws are not much different than those in other Western countries.