The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned that Middle East Christians are on the brink of extinction due to the continued threat of violence, murder, intimidation, prejudice and poverty. He further said that thousands of Christians have fled their homes, been killed, enslaved, or forced to convert from Christianity.
According to Justin Welby, the Middle East Christians are living in fear to practice their religion. They are facing “the worst situation since the Mongol invasions of the 13th Century.” In the last few years, they have been butchered by Islamic State and in many countries they find themselves squeezed between the upper and lower millstones of pressure from the society and the conflicts that bother the region.
Christians settled in the Middle East for more than 2,000 years ago, they have build churches and established their communities for centuries. The churches, houses and businesses of Christians have been destroyed and hence the population of the Christians in Iraq has decreased to half what it was in 2003.
The Syrian Christian population has also halved since 2010. According to estimates, around 200,000 Christians remain in Iraq, while there were over 1.4 million in 2002 and 500,000 in 2013. As per reports, an estimated 10 percent of Syrians are Christians and Only 1 in 400 Syrian Christians were given refuge in the UK. However, the number of granted asylum in the UK has dropped since 2016.
Archbishop Welby wrote, “Whether in large and flourishing communities, such as in Lebanon or Egypt, or smaller, struggling Churches, they need the protection and encouragement of governments and people at home and abroad, and foreign popular expression. Without this they cannot live out their vocation as citizens of their native lands in co-operation with other religious groups.”
Prince Charles will give his remarks at the upcoming event on December 4, at Westminster Abbey, to celebrate the contribution of Christians in the Middle East. The Prince of Wales will pray for the Christians in the region and publicize their plight.
In this year’s Easter speech, Charles said, “Over the years, I have met many who have had to flee for their faith and for their life – or have somehow endured the terrifying consequences of remaining in their country – and I have been so deeply moved, and humbled, by their truly remarkable courage and by their selfless capacity for forgiveness, despite all that they have suffered.”