Moscow, December 11, Interfax - Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations on Thursday expressed deep anxiety over anti-Christian "genocide" in the Middle East.
"The so-called Arab Spring, which has lasted for several years, has led to the violation of principal interreligious and interethnic balances that have been taking shape in the Middle East for many centuries. Today radical and extremist forces have been rearing their heads and, cloaking themselves with religious slogans, commit hideous crimes - they kill people, cut off their heads, defile holy sites, destroy churches," he told reporters.
"Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the Middle East these days, they are being put to what is effectively genocide," he said.
"The Christian population of Iraq has been decreased by 90% since 2003, an absolute majority of Christians have either been exterminated or forced to leave their home country. These days the few who remain there are subject to extremely brutal genocide. There are almost no Christians in Libya any longer. Christians in Egypt have been through tough trials, though at the moment, with new state leaders being in rule, the situation there is improving gradually," Metropolitan Hilarion said.
He pointed out that Syria is going through a humanitarian tragedy that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and made the existence of religious minorities extremely difficult.
"Today only Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church are speaking about this tragedy out loud. In the West, unfortunately, it's being glossed over, ignored, few people are aware of the scale of this tragedy," he said.
"We must do everything that is under our control to help the Christians of the Middle East so that Christianity survives in this region, where it was born and has existed for two millennia," he added.