A far-right party introduced a motion to establish an “International Day Against the Persecution of Christians” and cited the advocacy organization’s data.

Last month, a member of Germany’s parliament proposed the creation of an International Day Against the Persecution of Christians.

The motion failed. And the pushback from lawmakers even challenged the integrity of the international Christian persecution advocacy organization Open Doors.

The resolution came from the far-right Alternative für Deutschland party (AfD), whose website declares that “Islam does not belong to Germany.” When the party was founded in 2013, it was mostly known for its skepticism toward the European Union.

A couple of years later, however, the AfD’s attention shifted to opposing high levels of immigration to Germany, especially from Muslim-majority countries. Its rhetoric is similar to some other right-wing populist politicians in Europe who have appealed to Europe’s Christian cultural identity, such as Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán.

In his January 27 speech introducing the measure, AfD representative Jürgen Braun repeatedly blamed Islam as the source of persecution.

He cited statistics from Open Doors, including a figure stating that 360 million Christians suffer intense persecution or discrimination worldwide. Following Braun’s remarks, this and other figures were criticized by other legislators as “exaggerated,” “false,” and “completely unbelievable.”

During the debate, legislators from all five of the other parties that hold seats in the Bundestag had spoken forcefully against Braun’s proposal for a new day of remembrance and accused the AfD of using the plight of persecuted Christians to stir up hate or suspicion against Muslims. Some also noted Germany already has two days that have been designated …

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