On January 5, 2011, I took on the role of personal representative of the chairman-in-office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on combating racism, xenophobia and discrimination and intolerance against Christians and members of other religions. That makes, at least, for a long business card. I am the third such representative after the office was established, and the first scholar. My two predecessors were politicians.
Headquartered in Vienna, the OSCE has 56 participating States including the US, Canada, all the states of Europe and these resulting from the collapse of the Soviet Union, many of which are in fact located in Asia. A number of non-participating states have signed partnership agreements, and also maintain embassies to the OSCE in Vienna. Representatives’ positions are honorary. Translated from diplomatic jargon, this does not mean that we only pretend to work, but that we do not receive any monetary compensation.
Although the other parts of my mandate are also interesting – for instance, I devote a substantial portion of my time at OSCE to Roma and Sinti (Gypsy) issues – I will focus in this speech on intolerance, discrimination and persecution against Christians, a subject of great magnitude and concern.
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Massimo Introvigne is an Italian sociologist of religion. He is the founder and managing director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR).