EU SILENT AS MUSLIMS PERSECUTE CHRISTIANS

Diplomats accused the baroness, who is EU foreign affairs supremo and the world’s most highly-paid female politician, of seeking to appease Muslims by wiping out any reference to the Christian faith in statements.

One Christian pressure group even urged the Labour peer to resign over the shambles.

The row erupted yesterday when a meeting of EU foreign ministers, chaired by Baroness Ashton, broke up in acrimony after failing to agree a statement about religious persecution in Egypt and Iraq.

Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini savaged Lady Ashton over the debacle, saying: “This position is an excess of secularism, which is damaging the credibility of Europe.

“The final text didn’t include any mention of Christians, as if we were talking of something else, so I asked for the text to be withdrawn.” Mr Frattini had demanded a response from the EU after a New Year suicide bombing at a Coptic church in Egypt in which 23 people died.

That bombing followed attacks on Christians in Baghdad, which led the Vatican to warn of growing persecution that could trigger a Christian exodus from the Middle East.

One diplomat said: “Those who thought the creation of a high representative would lead to a more unified and coherent EU foreign policy have been very disappointed with Ashton.

“She cannot even finesse a statement from Christian Europe condemning attacks on Christians.”

The failure to condemned attacks on Christians follows a series of attempts by Eurocrats to stamp out references to Christianity in EU documents.

Brussels chiefs agreed to expunge reference to Europe’s Christian heritage in the controversial Lisbon Treaty. And earlier this month, the EU produced three million diaries for children that marked the dates of Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, Chinese and Hindu festivals but had no reference to Christmas, Easter or other Christian celebrations.

Criticism of Baroness Ashton, who earns £270,000 a year, was growing last night.

Tory MEP Roger Helmer said: “This is extraordinary. Cathy Ashton appears incapable of saying anything in these situations. She just buries her head in the sand.”

Alan Craig, of the Christian People’s Alliance, said: “Baroness Ashton must know door-step execution-style shootings in Baghdad, car bombs in Egypt and machete attacks in Nigeria were carried out on specific Christian targets.”

Lady Ashton said she would “reflect” about how to “make sure we recognise individual communities of whatever religion who find themselves being harassed or worse”.

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