2016-08-23 15:53:00

Number of actions against Christians in Middle East increases fourfold in past 7 years - Russian Foreign Ministry representative

Moscow, August 23, Interfax - A number of cases of terrorist reprisals and actions against Christians in the Middle East increased by 300% in the past seven years, Konstantin Dolgov, Russian Foreign Ministry Commissioner for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law, said.

"According to estimates of a variety of human rights organizations, a number of cases of terrorist reprisals and actions against Christians, including in the Middle East, increased by 300% in the past seven years," he said during a roundtable meeting on Tuesday.

"Russia reserves for itself the key role in defending the interests of Christian people. The events with our participation are aimed at the restoration of Christian sanctuaries, in particular, in Syria's Palmyra," he said.

Russia contributes a significant share to combating terrorism in the region, in particular, the Russian Aerospace Forces' operation in Syria, he said.

"The positions of ISIL [terrorist organization banned in Russia] are weakening in this context and the preconditions for gradual restoration of cultural heritage and normalization of the humanitarian situation, including with the Christian communities, are being created this way," he said.

He pointed out that Christians in Syria and Iraq are in the most difficult situation. "ISIL militants continue to spread their Sharia tradition by the most violent means, and this has nothing to do with Islam, with observance of the religions canons," he said.

The number of the Christian population in Syria has decreased by a million, he said.

"The Christian community in Iraq is in the hardest situation; the number of Christians has decreased tenfold," Dolgov said.

"ISIL militants imposed a special annual tax on Christians in Iraq, up to $500 per person; it is a vast sum of money by regional standards. Construction of churches is prohibited," he said.

The terrorists held over 200 Syrian Christians hostage, he said.