As has become a tradition, Austrian Christian and human rights organizations celebrated December 10th, the International Human Rights Day, by a march through the streets of Vienna and a dedicated mass in Stephansdom, one of the grand Viennese cathedrals. The International Sakharov Committee was invited to participate and to provide photographic documentation of the events.
It is worth noting that December 10th marks the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Islamic leaders have argued that inalienable human rights and equal rights for all are not compatible with Islam, and with Sharia in particular.
For that reason, the Organization for Islamic Cooperation has adopted a competing Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, which stipulates that Islam recognizes only one form of ‘human rights’: Sharia law. Thus, standing for the universal, inalienable human rights also implies making a stand against Sharia.
The march, with was lit by torches, was organized by the Plattform Solidarität mit Verfolgte Christen, CSI (Christian Solidarity International), Wiener Akademikerbund and others, and in total drew the support of 25 different organizations.
A special guest was Sister Hatune, a Turkish-German nun working tirelessly to aid victims of persecution, and to point out the source of persecution, in order that our governments may protect the vulnerable. On the same morning she had made a presentation with gruesome pictures from Iraq, Syria and Turkey (video to follow). In the evening she walked in front of the march with no fear, despite routinely receiving death threats from Islamists.
Starting at nightfall and carrying torches, the march set off from the famous Vienna Opera House, passing through the Christmas-decorated pedestrian areas to past the Maltheserkirche to Stephansdom, carrying banners about the grave situation for Christians world wide. Most were in German, translations are provided below:
Persecution of Christians on the rise, Europe stays silent
Murder, rape, burning churches, forced Islamization
Stop the persecution of Christians
The Platform for Solidarity with Persecuted Christians
The march was joined by many Austrians who were out to going shopping for Christmas, and an estimated 800 took part. A similar number of people joined the event in the Stephansdom, where bishops and other representatives of the church conducted the mass, which included several speeches about the situation. The podium had a banner featuring the two bishops abducted from Aleppo, Mor Gergorios Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazigi, with prayers for their return.
Sister Hatuna, in particular, pulled no punches pointing out the enemy: Islamists who seek to eradicate every non-Islamic religion and make Islam supreme on the Earth. That may have rattled the nerves of those inclined towards political correctness, as the approach used by the Sister certainly would earn them no flattery from their Islamic counterparts. But to the Sister, who works very directly with the problem, there is no possible doubt as to what the truth is and where it can be found: Common people, mainly Christians, are suffering massively, throughout the Middle East.
The mass, which was conducted in traditional Catholic manner with sermons, songs, prayer, Kyrie Eleison, and a concluding ecumenical prayer, was celebrated by representatives of many Christian denominations:
Episcopus emeritus Mag. Herwig Sturm, Evangelical Church,
Episcopus Auxiliaris Dr. Franz Scharl, Roman Catholic Church,
Archbishop Matta Roham, Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch,
Corepiskopos Dr. Emanuel Aydin, Syrian Orthodox Church,
Deputy Bishop Karl Rühringer, Vienna,
Pastor Dr. Hanna Ghoneim, Greek Catholic Church, Damascus
It is the hope of the organizers, and of The International Sakharov Committee, that our governments will take up these issues towards Turkey, Iraq and those supporting the war in Syria, in order that peace, human rights and genuine mutual respect can be reestablished. This is the intention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, appropriately commemorated on a dark day in December.