Middle East attacks on Christians cause for concern - Russian ombudsman

A woman walks inside a damaged church in Maaloula, Syria © Omar Sanadiki
Foreign Ministry’s plenipotentiary for Human Rights says Russia is extremely worried by the threat the current Middle East crisis poses for Christianity, adding that the extremists who launch attacks posing as Muslims were discrediting that religion.

Today’s situation in the Middle East Region is taking a critical shape, without any exaggeration. Radical extremists are conducting mass executions, destroy Christian churches, force people out of their homes and destroy holy sites with millennia-long history,” Konstantin Dolgov was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.

The ombudsman said Russian authorities were "in the most serious way concerned about the fate of the 2000-long presence of Christianity in the Middle East" and reminded the journalists that since the beginning of the armed conflict in Syria the numbers of Christian population in this country dropped from 2.2 million to 1.2 million and that the most important Christian holy sites in this country had been attacked or destroyed.

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Dolgov stated that the terrorists who used Muslim slogans as a cover for their activities were discrediting this religion. He also added that the outburst of this “malicious phenomenon” could be caused by the activities of various nations outside the Middle East region, especially Western countries pursuing their own interests.

Russian authorities and the Russian Orthodox Church have repeatedly expressed solidarity with people of Christian Faith that suffer from repressions on the part of the Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS and ISIL) and other terrorist groups in the region.

In late September this year, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church’s department for relations with secular society, Vsevolod Chaplin, said the Church fully supports Moscow’s plan to render military aid to the Syrian government and added that representatives of other major religions would throw their weight behind the anti-terrorist effort.

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The active position of our country has always been connected with protection of the weak and oppressed, like the Middle East Christians who are now experiencing a real genocide. Russia’s role has always been in protecting peace and justice for all Mideast peoples,” Chaplin said.