This website is an archive of the work of Marietje Schaake in the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019. Marietje can be reached at

Plenary speech on the situation of Christians in the context of freedom of religion

Mr President, religious conviction is an individual matter with a different meaning to different people. The role of the state is to protect all citizens, regardless of their conviction, and to allow them to freely associate and express themselves across the world. A glance at our world today shows a very bleak picture: from the Bahá’i in Iran to Copts in Egypt, from the use of blasphemy laws in Pakistan to the attacks on Christians or places of worship in Iraq and Nigeria. Today, we highlight the increased violence against Christians specifically, which provides a reason for great concern. It is incredibly painful that people attack and get attacked, both in the name of religion, and people of all faiths are victims. It is unacceptable to see that some individuals, extremists, choose to use violence and even terrorism and do so in the name of god or in the name of a religion, claiming thereby to speak on behalf of others or even seeking to be above the law and thus associating countless innocent people with this violence. But let us not be mistaken. By giving the extremists more credit than they deserve, by accepting the link between religion and terrorism, we disqualify the majority of believers who, in the diverse ways in which they do, practice their faith peacefully. Terrorism is political and terrorism is a crime. Religion can never be a credible or acceptable reason to use violence or to breach human rights. Too often this does happen, not only through violence, but also in limiting freedom of expression such as through the abuse of blasphemy laws. Religion or conviction should never be a reason for people to live in fear and the European Parliament rightly speaks out against the extremist acts against Christians and supports those who condemn this extremism.