Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK gave a keynote address at last week’s In Defense of Christians inaugural summit.
Bishop Angaelos said the Christians and minorities in the region were facing widespread brutality which was intensifying. He also warned however that discussion around the atrocities must not be confined to religious dialogue, but seen as a violation of human rights which will have far-reaching implications.
‘Heightened levels of extremism seek to eradicate indigenous Christian communities that have been a vital part of the identity, culture and heritage of the Middle East for over two millennia.
‘The model of intolerance and extremism that we are witnessing will become legitimised and replicated throughout the Middle East and further afield if left unchallenged, and will continue to marginalise, alienate and destroy all in its path.’
Bishop Angaelos added: ‘Rhetoric used to describe the atrocities in the Middle East must no longer remain within a religious framework, but rather deal with these events as unacceptable crimes against citizens of countries who are entitled to the basic rights and freedoms of all. It is within this context that the international community must commit itself to providing, supporting, and advocating, in every way it can, for Christians and others whose fundamental right to freedom of Faith is denied in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and the wider Middle East.’
Last week, Bishop Angaelos joined other Christian leaders from the Middle East, at Lambeth Palace where they met with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby as he spoke of a ‘state of emergency’ in the Middle East for Christians and other minorities.
He said: ‘We gather today as Christians, including those originally from the Middle East, to stand in solidarity and prayer with our brothers and sisters, who seek to practice their faith and belief in lands where they have been a continuing presence since the beginning of Christianity.’
He called for justice ‘without impunity’ to be served and said those suffering in the region require ‘us to act and bear witness to their plight, whatever ethnic group or religious minority they come from’.
[Report from Lapido Media]