STRASBOURG - Christian communities could disappear from the faith's birthplace in the Middle East because of persecution and low birth rates, the Council of Europe's parliament warned Thursday.
"The Assembly is convinced that the loss of Christian communities in the Middle East would also endanger Islam as it would signal the victory of fundamentalism," a resolution approved by the 318-member body said.
It condemned the October 2010 massacre of worshippers in the Syriac Catholic cathedral in Baghdad and the January 2011 suicide bombing in a Coptic church in Alexandria as two "particularly tragic" events in a growing number of attacks on Christian communities worldwide.
The representatives from the 47 member states said the co-existence of religious groups was a sign of pluralism and an environment favourable to the development of democracy and human rights.
Relations between Christian communities in the Middle East and the Muslim majorities have not always been easy, the assembly said, while public authorities in some Muslim countries have not always conveyed the right signals about other religious communities in these countries.
It called for a Council of Europe strategy to enforce freedom of religion -- including the freedom to change one’s religion -- as a human right.
Member states should also promote educational material which addressed anti-Christian stereotypes and bias as well as "Christianophobia" in general, the assembly said.
They should also insist on a "democracy clause" when making agreements with third countries, and take account of the situation of Christian and other religious communities in their political dialogue with these countries.