2011-12-02 13:14:00

Patriarch Kirill fears all Christians could leave Arab world

Moscow, December 2, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has expressed concern over an upsurge of violence against Christian minorities in the Middle East and North Africa.

"One of the most symbolic tendencies of our time is a mass exodus of Christians from the Middle East and North Africa, caused by an unprecedented increase in violence against religious minorities in the region," Patriarch Kirill said at a meeting with international conference participants in Moscow.

The Middle East is the cradle of the world's three key religions, which "historically explains the presence of followers of each there," he said.

However, ongoing events make the possibility of Christians being squeezed out of this region "quite realistic," he added.

Christians have become "hostages of big politics", and their situation is growing much worse as a result of foreign intervention in the affairs of the region's states, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church said.

"The term christianophobia has been present in the political vocabulary only for the past few years. It is not accidental because, as observers have noted, it is the Christians who are becoming the most persecuted religious group in the world today," he said.

Driving Christian minorities out of the region will open the door to "extremism preachers, who will create an unknown enemy's image quite successfully," Patriarch Kirill said.

"We again call for the creation of a viable mechanism to protect the rights of Christians and Christian communities, which could be developed through open dialogue involving representatives of other religious communities," he said.