Moscow, November 28, Interfax - The Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society, the oldest Russian scientific and charitable organization, is concerned about the worsening situation for Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, especially in Syria, and is calling on the international community to stand up in defense of Christian rights in this region and prevent their exodus.
"The Board of the Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society appeals to the international community and the leadership of the Middle East and North Africa not to allow a further mass exodus of Christians from the Middle East. The loss of Christian presence in this region will upset the religious balance in the center of the Christian world, the Holy Land, a balance that has been created over centuries," the society said in a statement in Moscow on Wednesday.
In the course of the continued armed conflict and political confrontation in Syria, Christians, including clerics, have been subjected to cruel reprisals, Christian holy sites have been desecrated, and churches destroyed, the statement says. In addition, the society is concerned about the worsening situation of Coptic Christians in Egypt, many of whom have been forced to leave their country because of religious persecution, and also Christian Arabs living in Palestine, it said.
"We are calling on national, religious, and international public and humanitarian organizations to raise their voices in defense of the rights of Christians in the Middle East, North Africa and the world in general. We believe that inter-religious dialogue with representatives of Islam and other traditional religions should play a special role in this," it said.
The society's board has called on the international community and international institutions "to work out an efficient global mechanism for countering religion-based discrimination" and vowed to be involved in this process as well.