Christianity is beginning “to disappear” in its own birthplace after 2,000 years because of a wave of “organised persecution” across the Middle East, the Prince of Wales has warned.
In an impassioned intervention, he said that the world is in danger of losing something “irreplaceably precious” with communities tracing their history back to the time of Jesus now under threat from fundamentalist Islamist militants.
Speaking openly of his own Christian faith, he said he had become “deeply troubled” by the plight of those he described as his “brothers and sisters in Christ”. Prince Charles accompanied by Prince Ghazi bin Mohammad of Jordan (2nd right) during the visit, celebrating Christian communities from the Middle-East in Britain.
He devoted a Christmas reception for religious leaders at Clarence House to draw attention to the threat Christians have come under in recent months across Egypt, Syria, Iraq and other parts of the region.
In a calculated display of unity, he delivered his comments flanked by Prince Ghazi of Jordan and joined by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols and the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis.
|Father Murad the Syrian Catholic priest beheaded alive |
by Muslim militants in Ghassaniyeh.
Clerics spoke of a new era of “martyrs” as one Syrian man clasped his hands together pleading with the Prince for help. Another showed him mobile phone pictures of the destruction in his own village.
In his address the Prince urged Christians, Muslims and Jews to unite in “outrage” as he warned that the elimination of Christianity in much of the region in which it developed would be a “major blow to peace”.
“I have for some time now been deeply troubled by the growing difficulties faced by Christian communities in various parts of the Middle East,” he said. “It seems to me that we cannot ignore the fact that Christians in the Middle East are increasingly being deliberately targeted by fundamentalist Islamist militants.”
In a reference to the Christmas story, he added: “Christianity was literally born in the Middle East and we must not forget our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters in Christ.
“Their church communities link us straight back to the early church as I was reminded by hearing Aramaic, our Lord's own language spoken and sung just a few hours ago.
“Yet today the Middle East and North Africa has the lowest concentration of Christians in the world - just four per cent of the population and it is clear that the Christian population has dropped dramatically over the last century and is falling still further.
“This has an effect on all of us, although of course primarily on those Christians who can no longer continue to live in the Middle East.
“We all lose something immensely and irreplaceably precious when such a rich tradition dating back 2,000 years begins to disappear.”
Speaking personally, he added: “For 20 years I have tried to build bridges between Islam and Christianity and to dispel ignorance and misunderstanding. “The point though surely is that we have now reached a crisis where the bridges are rapidly being deliberately destroyed by those with a vested interest in doing so.
“This is achieved through intimidation, false accusation and organised persecution including upon Christian communities in the Middle East at the present time.”
Prince Ghazi emphasised the importance of Christianity to the Arab world. “Christians were present in the Arab world 600 years before Muslims,” he said. “Indeed, Arabs were perhaps the first non-Hebrew Christians in the world, and became Christians during Jesus Christ’s own lifetime.”
Prince Charles confronts Baroness Warsi over 'Political Islam'
While the Government's Minister for Faith and Communities Baroness Warsi insists that the persecution and eradication of Christians in the Middle East has absolutely nothing to do with Islam, the Prince of Wales has exposed the lie.
|Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the First Muslim Minister.|
Certainly, the Islamist may not be the Baroness's preferred sort of Muslim expressing her preferred interpretation of Islam, but the Prince of Wales does not sweep the matter under the carpet, as the Baroness prefers to do, by seeking to divorce the systematic 'cleansing' of Christians in the Middle East from the virulent strain of Islamic theology which inspires and feeds it.
Prince Charles is clearly aware - while the Baroness apparently is not - that there is a vastly influential school of thought within Islam which believes that the only truly devout Muslim is a fundamentalist one.
This particular strain - the Wahhabi-Salafist school which is spreading like a plague through Syria, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon and Egypt, infecting many hundreds of thousands, if not millions of the Baroness's co-religionists ("who do not follow any faith") - believes 'jihad' to be a struggle for the glory of Allah to the death against the apostate, blasphemer and non-believer - the kuffar - who are lower than pigs but not quite as low as the Jews.
Ruth Gledhill has the story for The Times. The sub-ed title is provocative (journalists rarely write their own, though they are invariably blamed for them): the Prince of Wales didn't quite say that Islam is to blame, but he did say:
“It seems to me that we cannot ignore the fact that Christians in the Middle East are, increasingly, being deliberately attacked by fundamentalist Islamist militants. Christianity was, literally, born in the Middle East and we must not forget our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters in Christ.
“For 20 years, I have tried to build bridges between Islam and Christianity and to dispel ignorance and misunderstanding. The point though, surely, is that we have now reached a crisis where the bridges are rapidly being deliberately destroyed by those with a vested interest in doing so, and this is achieved through intimidation, false accusation and organised persecution, including to Christian communities in the Middle East at the present time.”
|Massacre of Christians in Syria's Sadad City.|
We have often heard him speaking up on behalf of British Muslims, but here he is raising the profile of the appalling plight of Christians in the Middle East - his "brothers and sisters in Christ", as he calls them. And here is just one account of the horrific reality of their present suffering:
What happened in Sadad is the most serious and biggest massacre of Christians in Syria in the past two years and a half. 45 innocent civilians were martyred for no reason, and among them several women and children, many thrown into mass graves. Other civilians were threatened and terrorized. 30 were wounded and 10 are still missing.
For one week, 1,500 families were held as hostages and human shields. Among them children, the elderly, the young, men and wome. All the houses of Sadad were robbed and property looted. The churches are damaged and desecrated, deprived of old books and precious furniture. What happened in Sadad is the largest massacre of Christians in Syria and the second in the Middle East, after the one in the Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Iraq, in 2010.
Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama, pleads with us: “We have shouted aid to the world but no one has listened to us. Where is the Christian conscience? Where is human consciousness? Where are my brothers? I think of all those who are suffering today in mourning and discomfort: We ask everyone to pray for us.”
At least your brother the Prince of Wales has heard.
|Mass burial of Christians massacred in Sadad City.|
“Everywhere else in the Middle East Christians are wondering what the rise of these movements, and of politicised Islam in general, means for their future,” the Prince added.
Both Prince Charles and Prince Ghazi present Baroness Warsi with an unpalatable truth: 'Political Islam' is an undoubted expression of Islam, not an ideology of those "who do not follow any faith". Of course, all religions have their intolerant sects and extremists - both violent and peaceful - but fundamentalist zealotry is not overcome by turning a blind eye to theological distortion or by deflecting from the fons et origo of their evil acts.
'Political Islam' contends that Islam possesses a theory of politics and the state, and we see that this theory is somewhat at odds with modernity. It is unsurprising that Muslim political activism has become synonymous with terrorism when so little media attention is dedicated to those who seek to relate their religion to contemporary social concerns - ie to contextualise it in the light of modern sociopolitical notions of justice, human rights and liberal democracy.
The Islamist tends to want the whole of society to revert to the Mecca of AD 610 or, more accurately, the Medina of 622: in this context, the rest of us simply become dhimis, while the practices and principles of 'the Prophet' regulate society with a distinct Muslim polity, including the struggle - jihad - for defence, survival and dominance.
We must thank God that the Prince of Wales has taken up the cause of persecuted Christians across the Middle East: it is, quite literally, an answer to the prayers of millions, for when Prince Charles gets a bee in his bonnet about an issue, he tends to do more than make a few speeches of agitation.
Thank God he is alive to the reality that many Muslim countries harbour extremists and intolerant fanatics who believe it is their duty (and the will of Allah after the example of Mohammed) to slaughter the infidel Christians. Of course, some of these Islamists now dwell among us: it is perhaps only a matter of time before we begin to taste some of this “organised persecution” ourselves - if, indeed, the infection is not already coursing through the arteries of our liberal, tolerant and accommodating multicultural relativism.
If, as the Prince of Wales asserts, the world is in danger of losing something “irreplaceably precious” - Christian communities in the Middle East which can trace their heritage back to the time of Jesus and the Apostles - then we, too, must pray daily for our brothers and sisters in Christ. They are the new wave of martyrs, crucified for Christ. Their suffering is ours; their mourning is ours; their grief is the agony of us all.
Related posts at following links:
Christian Priest Beheaded Alive by Islamists in Syria