Prince Charles: 'Muslims Persecuting Christians'
After visiting British branches of Middle Eastern churches, Britain's Prince Charles reached the conclusion that "Christians in parts of the Middle East are being deliberately targeted by Islamist militants in a campaign of persecution."
The Prince of Wales visited the Egyptian Coptic Church in Stevenage, north of London, and the Syriac Orthodox cathedral in west London. In talking with church leaders, accompanied by Prince Ghazi of Jordan, Charles heard tales of massive persecution following the 2011 "Arab Spring."
"For 20 years I have tried to build bridges between Islam and Christianity to dispel ignorance and misunderstanding," Charles said in a speech later at Clarence House, attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbiship of Westminster and the Chief Rabbi, reports BBC.
Charles acknowledged "we have now reached a crisis where bridges are rapidly being deliberately destroyed by those with a vested interest in doing so. This is achieved through intimidation, false accusation and organized persecution including to the Christian communities in the Middle East at the present time."
Prince Charles's comments join other official expressions of concern regarding the region. In November, Pope Francis stated that the Vatican "will not resign itself to a Middle East without Christians," during a meeting with Christian leaders from the region.
It has been charged by many that Christians in the Middle East are in grave danger, particularly in the current unrest since the so-called "Arab Spring" unrest began.
Christians have been caught in the crossfire of Syria's war. On December 2, Syrian rebels captured the historic Christian town of Maalula, reportedly kidnapping 12 nuns. Meanwhile Islamist rebels publicly beheaded a Catholic priest in July, in the northern Syrian town Idlib.
One Christian leader told BBC that a third of Syria's Christians have fled the country, joining the 2.2 million refugees of the bloody conflict.
Former Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, noted in 2012 that the Christian population in the Middle East dropped from 20% a century ago to 5% currently amid ongoing persecution.
Oren said that in Egypt, 200,000 Coptic Christians fled their homes in 2011 amid anti-Christian violence during the Arab Spring uprising that toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak. Ongoing violence in the country continues to target Christians.
In 2012, Saudi Arabia's top Muslim leader, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Shaikh, issued a fatwa (religious decree) to demolish all churches on the Arabian peninsula.
Currently, Israel is the only Middle Eastern country whose population is growing, rather than shrinking.