Statement of the communication service of the Department for External Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate concerning Syria

Moscow, May 28, 2013

For many decades Syria was distinguished by the atmosphere of interfaith peace and agreement. Various communities of Christians, Muslims and Jews lived in good neighborly relations and mutual understanding. With the outbreak of armed resistance in this country the situation of religious minorities has worsened greatly.

It is known that many radical extremists from different countries are taking part in acts of terrorism in Syria and they set themselves the task of total cleansing of the Middle East region from non-Muslims. As a result Christians in Syria are faced with persecutions the scale of which is becoming more menacing. According to Metropolitan Isaac of Apamia (The Orthodox Church of Antioch), Syrian Christians see that "after the arrival of militants the unbelievable is happening": Churches are destroyed, clergymen are kidnapped, Christians are forcibly driven from their homes and killed.

In April this year, another Hierarch of the Orthodox Church of Antioch, Bishop Luke of Seidnaya, told the media that 140,000 Christians had been banished from their homes and at the same time Christian churches were systematically destroyed. "They are killing people. A human life is of no value for them," noted the Hierarch.

On April 22, 2013, militants of an extremist organization kidnapped Syrian Christian Hierarchs: Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo (the Patriarchate of Antioch) and Metropolitan Mar Gregory Johanna Ibrahim (the Syriac Church) and their driver, a deacon, was murdered. The Metropolitans are still in captivity.

On May 11, 2013, it became known that militants had destroyed the ancient Orthodox Monastery of Holy Prophet Elias in vicinity of the town of Al-Qusayr: they plundered the monastery, took away the church vessels, blew up the bell-tower, and destroyed the chancel and the font.

The Russian Orthodox Church definitely condemns any violation and attempts of provoking interfaith strife in Syria. The Patriarchate of Moscow expresses its solidarity with the suffering brothers and sisters—Syrian Christians—and expresses its hope that the international community will devote due attention to such outrageous events. Large-scale and glaring violations of human rights must not be concealed but must be actively resisted.

29 мая 2013 г.

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