October 24, 2012 - 11:11 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Russian Orthodox Church is worried about the persecution of Christians in Syria and other Arab countries where regimes changed rapidly, a top Church official said, according to RIA Novosti.
“We are deeply worried by what is going on in Syria, where radical forces are trying to come to power with the help of Western powers,” Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Russian Church's Department of External Church Relations, told journalists.
“Where they come to power, Christian communities become the first victims,” he said.
Metropolitan Hilarion on Tuesday, Oct 23, spoke at the UN General Assembly’s social and humanitarian affairs committee and met with UN chief Ban Ki-moon.
He also cited Iraq as an example, saying that 1.5 million Christians lived in the country 10 years ago, and adding that the number has significantly decreased since. Many have been killed or forced to escape to other countries, the metropolitan said.
The current number of Christians, a minority in mainly Muslim Iraq, does not exceed 350,000, and it was above 1 million before the Gulf War in 1991, according to human rights watchdog Open Doors USA.
Metropolitan Hilarion said the topic of the persecution of Christians is being hushed up by Western press and is not on the UN or other international organizations’ agenda.
“The talk is not about insufficient tolerance, but about a real full-scale persecution of Christians that embraces different countries and whose victims are tens and hundreds of thousands of Christians,” he said.
Russia, the Russian Church official said, is the key force trying to prevent Syria from the repetition of the Libyan or Iraqi scenarios.
“We should not just speak on the topic, but create a mechanism that would prevent further indulgence toward persecution of Christians,” he said.