As Christians face the threat of violent persecution in Syria, Nigeria, and other countries, speakers at a rally in Rome called on governments to explicitly condemn the violence, and to grant the persecuted full refugee status.
The organizers noted that during the course of history, an estimated 70 million Christians have been martyred for their faith, including 40 million in the 20th century alone. They said, each year, 105,000 Christians die as martyrs -- one new martyr every minute -- killed by Islamic terrorists, Hindus in India, or communists in China, North Korea and Vietnam.
"We're told about a triumph of democracy and peace," said Roberto de Mattei of the Lepanto Foundation, a non-profit organization defending the principles and institutions of Western Christian civilization.
"After Sept. 11, they said, Don't worry, because the politics of dialogue and interreligious peace will prevail. Today, we're told about the health of the Maghreb, that it is a model of the Arab Spring, showing hope and promise," the Italian historian said. "But the reality of what is before our eyes is tragically different. Today, we are here to cry out our indignation, and launch our appeal for persecuted Christians."