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Russia-EU PCC demands Islamists in Syria free Christian clergymen

January 16, 2014, 18:40 UTC+3 STRASBOURG
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STRASBOURG, January 16. /ITAR-TASS/. The Russia-EU Parliamentary Cooperation Committee demanded Christian clergymen, who were seized by Islamists in Syria, should be immediately released and the warring parties should protect religious minorities - Shi’ites, Alawi, Druzes, Kurds and Christians.

A statement to this effect has been made by the Committee’s members at the 16th European Parliament plenary session.

“We demand the armed opposition, which acts near the areas of Christians’ settlement, should not attack the peaceful population, not desecrate and not destroy sacred places and relics on the territory of Al Kalamoon where the most ancient Christian monasteries and churches are located in the settlements of Ma’loula and Saidnaya ,” parliamentarians said.

In their view, Islamists, who attack clergymen, want “to stir up ethnic and confessional discord and expel Christians from Syria”.

Parliamentarians urged rebels to free nuns and noviciates of the Orthodox Church of Saint Fyokla Equal to the Apostles and Reverend Mother Pelageya, Italian clergyman Paolo Dall’Oglio, Orthodox bishops - Johanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji.

The deportation of Christians from Syria is very dangerous and can lead to new dividing lines, parliamentarians said.

Commenting on the results of the session, the Committee-co-chairman, deputy speaker of the Russian State Duma, lower house of parliament, Sergei Zheleznyak, told Itar-Tass that despite tense discussions and different points of view, “parliamentarians succeeded in reaching agreement on the protection of Christian and religious minorities in Syria”.

“This proves our readiness to find solutions to the problems, which are critical for people’s life and condition and which prevent humanitarian catastrophes. This is supported by Russia and the European Parliament regardless the disagreements,” Zheleznyak said.

Member of the Russian delegation, deputy chairman of the Russian Federation Council Foreign Relations Committee Andrei Klimov told Itar-Tass that the Committee’s statement on Syria was a precedent.

“When such events happen and when people start taking such actions by covering by any religious terms of course, such tragedy causes damage to civilization,” he said.

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