2012-03-20 14:30:00

Russian Church hopes govts of Persian Gulf countries will not back idea of church destruction

Moscow, March 20, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church has expressed concerns about the statement made by Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, who has called for all churches in the Persian Gulf countries to be destroyed.

"This statement is alarming because the Persian Gulf countries are populated not only by numerous Muslims, but also Christians. They live side by side with Muslims in peace, they work and make a constructive contribution to the life of each country," Archbishop of Yegoryevsk Mark, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for Foreign Establishments, told Interfax-Religion.

Archbishop Mark said he is hoping that the governments of the region's countries "will be surprised by the calls made by this sheikh and ignore them."

Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah earlier called for all churches on the territory of the countries of the Arab Cooperation Council to be destroyed. The statement was made after the administration of Kuwait said the construction of new churches may be banned, the Russian Emirates website has reported.

Kuwaiti parliamentarian Osama al Munaver earlier announced plans to present to the country's administration a bill on the destruction of all churches in the country. He later corrected his position, saying the existing churches can stay but the construction of new churches and other non-Islamic religious buildings should be banned.