Moscow, April 21, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said Islam must not be demonized, while interaction with traditional Islamic communities should be strengthened.
"We have witnessed a series of sad events over the past year - the seizure of Mosul by Islamic State militants and the destruction of all of the city's 45 churches. It is appalling to think that no undamaged church has survived in Mosul. When some claim that this is being done for the sake of Islam, I can only make one comment. If this is so, someone is doing everything possible to demonize Islam in the eyes of the world," the patriarch said at an Easter reception in the Russian Foreign Ministry.
"No more potent method can be devised to turn Islam into an outcast of Mankind," he said.
"They demonstrate how heads are being cut off for the sake of Islam, how temples are being destroyed and cultural values thrown out. People develop the natural feeling of revulsion seeing all that. This is why we are concurrently strengthening relations with Islamic communities," Patriarch Kirill said.
He said relations should be broadened with the Arab world "in order to jointly prevent the advancement of the extremist wing in the Islamic community and to rule out a distorted understanding of Islam in the world public's mind."
"The presence of Christians in the Middle East is indeed an historical fact, as well as a factor of stability in the region. If the Christian community is supplanted, if Christians do not return, the Middle East will become a mono-religious community," he said.
The Church's and Foreign Ministry's joint work to protect Christians across the world is "a cause of special importance," he said.
"The front for defending Christians should be broadened in the Middle East and in the world as s whole. We welcome the prospect of interaction with the Roman-Catholic Church. We have identical positions on this issue," the Russian patriarch said.