Pope and patriarch condemn Mid-East ‘persecution’


There should be no compulsion in religion. Surely, right has become distinct from wrong; so whosoever refuses to be led by those who transgress, and believes in Allah, has surely grasped a strong handle which knows no breaking. And Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. (Al Quran 2:257)


Source: BBC

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Pope Francis and the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians have condemned the treatment of many Christians in the Middle East.

In a joint declaration, the Pope and Patriarch Bartholomew I said they could not resign themselves to a “Middle East without Christians”.

On a three-day visit to Turkey, the pontiff discussed divisions between Catholics and Orthodox Christians.

In Istanbul, he and the patriarch also called for peace in Ukraine.

Patriarch Bartholomew is the spiritual leader of the world’s 250 million Orthodox Christians, whose Church broke with Rome in 1054 in a schism that divided the Christian world.

Constantinople, as the modern Turkish city of Istanbul was once known, was the centre of Orthodox Christianity until the Ottoman conquest in 1453.

Only around 120,000 Christians remain in Turkey, where the vast majority of the 80 million citizens are Muslims.

Pope Francis also called for an interfaith dialogue with Muslims to counter fanaticism and fundamentalism when he visited the Turkish capital, Ankara.

Christians have been targeted by Muslim hardliners in Iraq and Syria in recent years, with a violent campaign of persecution by Islamic State militants this summer when they captured the Iraqi city of Mosul.

In their joint declaration, the two Church leaders said: “We express our common concern for the current situation in Iraq, Syria and the whole Middle East…

“Many of our brothers and sisters are being persecuted and have been forced violently from their homes. It even seems that the value of human life has been lost, that the human person no longer matters and may be sacrificed to other interests. And, tragically, all this is met by the indifference of many.”

The violent conflict in Ukraine this year has accentuated differences between its large Orthodox and Catholic communities.

The Pope and the patriarch said: “We pray for peace in Ukraine, a country of ancient Christian tradition, while we call upon all parties involved to pursue the path of dialogue and of respect for international law in order to bring an end to the conflict and allow all Ukrainians to live in harmony.”

As his visit draws to a close, Pope Francis is also due to meet Turkey’s chief rabbi, whose flock has diminished to just 17,000 people.

Additional Reading

How Islam Taught Medieval Christian Europe Religious and Political Tolerance

Is There Coercion in Islam and Christianity?

Caliph Umar Farooq versus Emperor Heraclius: Who gave us our Religious Freedoms?

7 replies

  1. The politicians of the Muslim countries should have the wisdom of stop killing and displacing their minorities.

    They should rather use them as ambassadors to the West to highlight the political and economic exploitation of the Muslim countries by the West, by choosing and rewarding suitable spokesmen.

    Like moderate Muslims in the West genuinely talk about patriotism, human rights and Separation of Mosque-Church and State.

    There could be different ways to assure the sincerity of the ambassadors, so they do not double cross their benefactors. In the West for example, Muslims who are married to non-Muslims rise to such positions.

  2. When push comes to shove, often the religious leaders fall prey to the war mongering politicians.

    It would be nice if Catholic Church were to show all the efforts it made to prevent Gulf Crisis and beginning of wars against Iraq in 1990s, after all 5% of population in Iraq was Christian and 10% in Syria. I hope they did something on their behalf. After all, the Christians were living peacefully under the tyrant and dictator Saddam Hussain.

    While they are at it they could also show what the Church has done for the 10% Palestinian population that has traditionally been Christian.

    I am for co-existence of all humans, I just want to bring out the games the religious and political leaders keep playing.

    The human condition is, as Plato would make Socrates say in the Republic (7.514a ff.), comparable to that of prisoners of an underground cave, whose unfortunate fate is to confuse reality with passing shadows created by a fire inside their miserable abode and kept in motion by clever manipulators, who in the name of politics, religion, science, and tradition control the human herd.

  3. Zia,
    A few questions for you. In the light of sura 1, widely regarded as the ‘mother of all suras’, are those who have ‘transgressed’ not the Jews and Christians, the same people who sura 2:257 you quoted says should not lead those who believe?
    In the light of that, are those regimes persecuting the ‘transgressors’ wrong?
    As those ‘transgressors’ cannot be allowed to lead their countries, has the quran not instituted their second class status?
    You have placed the word “persecution” in parenthesis. Does this not mean that you do not believe that any group is being persecuted?
    Why is TMT not interested in doing the same to the Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Confucians, Shintos and others who do not fall into the three categories singled out for the special muhammadan ‘favors’? They constitute at least 40% of humanity.
    I should have saked this question under the article on Zafarullah Khan but it seems that further comments have been closed. So I have to ask it hear. Sir Zafarullah Khan lived in what was once India which is now home to about 1 billion Hindus. Why did he not first think of presenting his belief/message to his then fellow countrymen before exporting it to the West? Was he rejected? And if so, what makes it worth any consideration in the West?
    More will follow your response.

  4. Sura Fatiha is a paradigm of thinking and understanding the rest of the Holy Quran.

    Unfortunately, sometimes the Muslims themselves fill the shoes of those who transgressed and are mentioned in the opening chapter. So, the real enemy of all of us is black and white thinking, otherwise, we are all a human family.

    Title of the article, I just copied from BBC. I do believe that non-Muslims are being persecuted in the so called Muslim countries.

  5. Zia,
    Dr. Denis Alexander is a neuroscientist. His book made its debut last September. It was reproduced in November.
    You have described the book as ‘a futile attempt’ to reconcile evolution with original sin. What is perfidious is your determination to deny him or any other person the opportunity to challenge your position. This has been done by cutting off the comments portion of the article.
    Without a point to point refutation of the issues raised by Dr. Alexander, your assertion smacks of arrogance.
    You have not been able to dislodge the existence of original sin. …

  6. Namelee please do not forget that I first mentioned the book and you did not. In other words I saw no need to hide the book from our readers.

    As I felt very confident and comfortable in my position.

    To see Original Sin in its original and true colors, hear the recent debate by Kenneth Ham. There was no death or disease before the Original Sin, according to the conventional belief.

    While you are at it also read the books by Andrew Dickson White.

    If you disclose your identity and write a review of the book some where online, it is very likely that I will link that review in the Muslim Times as well.

    The software turns off the discussion in a post after so many days. We have to do that to minimize spam.

  7. Zia,
    It is not about who first wrote about the book or hiding it from the readers. It is about countering what Dr. Alexander has written on original sin and evolution before describing his attempt as ‘futile’.
    When debating you on a subject which is found in your religious literature, it is needless for me to refer to sources with contrary opinions. There is, therefore, no need for me to read what Kenneth Ham or Andrew Dickson White has said.
    There may have been no death before original sin, but there was sin before death. The latter came as a consequence of the former. Iblis did not become satan and evil until he disobeyed allah. Ever since, he has remained evil and were he to have children, they too would have been evil. The quran does not say that iblis or any of his associates has been purged of evil and restored to his former glory or position.
    Using my chosen identity does not stop me from commenting on issues. It is as good as any other.
    This article first appeared about a week ago with considerable activity. It is strange to think that the system turned off itself after just a few days because of spam when articles which date back to 2011 are very much alive having not been turned off. Possibly such articles are immune to spamming.

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