Relations between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East have reached crisis point, according to Prince Charles, who is "deeply troubled" by the plight of Christians in the region.
heir to the British throne told a reception for Middle East Christians
at Clarence House on Tuesday that the divisions have been "achieved
through intimidation, false accusation and organised persecution,
including to the Christian communities in the Middle East at the present
Charles, who spoke of his work to promote understanding
between the two religions, said bridges between Christians and Muslims
were being deliberately destroyed by people with a vested interest.
He said this affected Arab Christians in countries such as Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Egypt, as well as those from other Arab countries.
have for some time now been deeply troubled by the growing difficulties
faced by Christian communities in various parts of the Middle East," he
said. "It seems to me that we cannot ignore the fact that Christians in
the Middle East are increasingly being deliberately targeted by
fundamentalist Islamist militants.
was literally born in the Middle East and we must not forget our Middle
Eastern brothers and sisters in Christ," he added.
Christians now accounted for 4% of the population in the Middle East and
North Africa – the lowest concentration in the world.
archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and
archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols were all present at the
Syria's minority Christian community has faced growing
violence during the bloody civil war, which has claimed more than
100,000 lives and displaced millions from the country.
interview in October, the Melkite Greek Catholic patriarch Gregorios III
said almost a third of Syria's Christians had fled their homes.
report by the charity Aid to the Church in Need, published in October,
said there were now "grave questions" about the long term survival of
Christianity in the Middle East.
Earlier, the prince visited the
Coptic Orthodox church centre in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, where he was
presented with an icon of St George for himself and his baby grandson