France calls for European response to attacks on Christians

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French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie on Tuesday called on Europe to come up with a coordinated response to attacks on the Middle East's Christians after this week's deadly bombing in Egypt.

Alliot-Marie told Europe 1 radio that she would send a letter to European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton asking that "not only France but all of Europe takes up... this problem in its entirety."

She said she had called for the issue to be raised during a meeting of EU foreign ministers on January 31 and that Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini was expected to co-sign the letter.

She said the goal would be to see "how we can very concretely... help" the region's Christians, noting for example, that aid could be given to Iraq's Kurdish areas, where many of the country's Christians have fled.

"We must act together, to welcome, to offer the right of asylum to those who feel threatened, but most of all we must act so that these people can stay in their homes," she said.

Concern has been growing for Middle Eastern Christians since the attack in Egypt -- in which 21 people were killed in an apparent suicide bombing -- and an October attack on a church in Baghdad in which 46 Christians were killed.

© 2011 AFP

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