We Feel the Suffering of Christians in Egypt, Says Austrian Minister

Sebastian Kurz, Austrian State Secretary for Integration, said Austrians feel the suffering of Christians in Egypt, especially after the rise of the militant religious currents to power.

Kurz said the Coptic Church and community is one the best foreign communities in Austria and they are welcome because they respect the Austrian society.

The Austrian minister told Mideast Christian News that he was glad with the historic visit of H. H. Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, pointing out that he spoke to him about many issues related to interfaith and intercultural dialogues.

"The Austrian society is based on religious and cultural diversity and rejects extremism and discrimination among citizens on the basis of color, race or religion," Kurz added. "It always seeks to preserve its own culture and identity, so it confronts all movements of religious and intellectual extremism and dries all sources of terrorism for the safety and continued advancement of the society."

The Austrian politician said that religious extremism has no place on the land of Austria, because Austria guarantees freedom of worship and religious practice to all religions and sects. He pointed out that the security authorities are aware of the seriousness of terrorism, which has become a very critical issue that concerns countries of the world.

According to Kurz, there is wide coordination throughout the European Union with regard to security information and combating of terrorist activities.

"The birth rate is very high among immigrants, while it is diminishing significantly among Austrians, but what concerns us is the integration of these generations into the identity and culture of the Austrian community, without any attempt to impose any alien culture on it," Kurz said regarding the change in demographics in Austria due to growing birth rates among immigrants.

Kurtz explained that the intercultural dialogue is one of the important issues on the agenda of the integration file, and therefore he always seeks to attend a lot of events and forums, particularly with young people, to identify ideas and exchange views with all spectrums of cultures coming to Austria.

"In the file of integration, we also examine the situation of minorities and human rights in many countries of the world, and the countries of the Middle East in particular, from which many immigrants come to Austria," he noted.

"[This is] in order to understand their cultural background and the circumstances of their upbringing in their countries and the impact of the political situation on them, especially those who come from countries that have been ruled by dictatorial and repressive systems for many years," he added.