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Orthodox Church urges international community to stop genocide of Christians in Syria

November 18, 2013, 17:06 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, November 18, 15:57 /ITAR-TASS/. The international community should take effective measures to stop genocide of Christians and representatives of other religions in Syria that are purposefully eliminated by extremists, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Department for External Church Relations (DECR) of the Moscow Patriarchate, said at an international colloquium in Lichtenstein, the DECR website reports on Monday.

The forum, devoted to the Syrian crisis, was attended by UN-LAS special representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, as well as representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, diplomats from various countries and Christian clergy of Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. The forum was held in Vaduz on November 17.

“We all should express a strong protest against the current genocide of Christians in the Middle East that is a purposeful policy pursued by the extremist and terrorist forces aimed at the total elimination of Christianity in this region,” Metropolitan Hillarion said.

The DECR head stated with regret that “the issue of persecution of Christians is only rarely raised at present in the political discourse and by mass media.”

“We realise that the Syrian conflict is not simply a conflict taking place in a given country. It is the continuation of the processes happening in a number of the Middle East countries where the radical elements, undermining interfaith peace are strengthening. Wherever they come to power and take the situation under control, their victims are religious minorities, including Christians,” the Russian Orthodox Church representative stressed.

Metropolitan Hillarion cited numerous examples of militants’ aggression against Christians and representatives of other religions who do not share extremists’ views and who seek peace in Syria. “Not only Christians are persecuted, but also Alawites and supporters of the moderate Sunni regime, including its authoritative leaders,” he noted, adding that terrorists had killed the prominent Islamic theologian - Imam Ramadan Al-Bouti and the son of Syria’s Grand Mufti Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun, and also destroyed a great Muslim shrine - the Umayyad Mosque of Aleppo. “Every week we receive news that bandits have destroyed a Christian monastery or church, kidnapped or killed a cleric, raped a Christian woman and that Christian families have been ousted from their houses,” the DECR head said. According to him, “Christians themselves take a neutral stance in the civil standoff, raising their voice only for the maintenance of peace.”

“Christians of the Middle East feel abandoned to their fate by the Western countries and are afraid for their future. It is necessary to take steps to protect the Christian population of the Middle East region,” Metropolitan Hillarion concluded.

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