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Merkel persecution comments slammed

Opposition politicians and human rights groups have criticised German Chancellor Angela Merkel for claiming that Christianity is "the most persecuted religion worldwide".

Jerzy Montag, of the opposition Greens party, described Mrs Merkel's comments as "mistaken" and "not very helpful".

Rights campaigners said ranking faiths according to how persecuted they are is pointless.

Human Rights Watch noted that Muslims in Burma, members of Falun Gong in China and Jews in many countries worldwide also face persecution.

Mrs Merkel's comments came at a meeting of the German Protestant Church on Monday in which she emphasised Germany needed to protect Christian minorities as part of its foreign policy.

Mrs Merkel, the daughter of a pastor, also spoke out against strict separation of church and state and said Europe was built on Christian foundations.

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