International leaders express concern for Christians in Middle East

December 15, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Rally against Iraq and Syria Christians persecutionSyria, December 4, 2014: The Prince of Wales has spoken of his distress about the suffering of Armenian Christians in Iraq and Syria, as he visited London’s Armenian cathedral on 19 November. And at the end of a three-day visit to Turkey, Pope Francis signed a joint declaration with Patriarch Bartholomew I condemning the persecution of Christian communities in the Middle East. Also in solidarity with suffering Christians, Russia’s ambassador to the UK has pledged that his country will support Christians in Iraq and Syria.

Lamenting the plight of Armenian Christians in the Middle East, the UK’s Prince Charles denounced the destruction of the Armenian church in Deir el-Zour, Syria by Jabhat al-Nusra Islamists as well as the devastation of a 1,800-year-old church in Mosul, Iraq by Islamic State (IS) earlier this year. Condemning the persecution of Christians in the Middle East as “the most soul-destroying tragedy” and a “grotesque and barbarous assault” he said, “Our prayers for those who have to endure this continuing horror, seem so hopelessly inadequate under such dreadful circumstances, but please, please just know how truly heartfelt they are.”

Although many church buildings have been attacked, the targeting of these two highly significant churches comes as a blow to those for whom they mean so much. The Armenian church in Deir el-Zour was built to remember the 1.5 million Armenians massacred under Turkish Ottoman rule in a decades-long  genocide that peaked in 1915. Commemorated annually on 24 April, Armenians in Syria flock to the church; 2015 will mark the centenary, but there is little hope that anyone will reach the church ruins next year.

Meanwhile, in modern-day Turkey, the Christian population is now as low as 0.1% or less, with around 100,000 believers although Christians accounted for over 20% of the Ottoman Empire before the Armenian genocide. Patriarch Bartholomew I, who is Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, welcomed Pope Francis at Istanbul on 30 November. Together, they expressed concern for the Christians who have been forced to leave their homes in the Middle East and urged the international community to assume its duty to care for the oppressed and the displaced.

Elsewhere, according to a statement on 26 November by the Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian experts are working on a document that examines the possibility of implementing a UN Human Rights Council draft decision to protect Christians in the Middle East and North Africa.

Dr Yakovenko also wrote that Russia is set to defend the case of persecuted Christians in the region at the OSCE Ministerial Council that is currently meeting in Basel, Switzerland. “Preventing the persecution of Christians in this part of the world is one of Russia’s foreign policy priorities,” he said.  The report highlights Russia’s concern about the suffering of Christians in Iraq and Syria who have been victims of an enforced head tax [the traditional Islamic jiyza tax on non-Muslims] and forced to leave their homes as IS militants attempt to impose aggressive laws.

Dr Yakovenko also commented, “We believe that Europe, including the UK, should make its contribution to these efforts, taking into account the Christian roots of the European civilization.”

– barnabas team

Enter Google AdSense Code Here

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!