Christianity at risk of dying out in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, Syriac Orthodox Church leader warns

Source: Christian Today

August 30, 2016

Christianity is in danger of disappearing across entire
countries in the Middle East, the land of its birth,
according to a senior Syriac Orthodox Church leader.

There have been repeated warnings about the decline of
Christianity in Iraq under the Islamic State onslaught.
Eight in ten Christians have left Iraq since 2003.

But the Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church, Ignatius
Aphrem II, has now warned that Christianity is also at
risk of disappearing in Syria and Lebanon.

The massive decline of the Christian population in Turkey
from 3.5m to 150,000 in the last 100 years alone could be
repeated in Syria and Lebanon, he warned.

“I am worried that Christianity is on the way out
both in Syria and Iraq as well as in Lebanon,” he
told John Pontifex of Aid to the Church in Need, a
Catholic charity which provides emergency help and
spiritual support for Christians worldwide.

Already, in Syria, half of the Christians are either
displaced or have fled abroad. Many are also fleeing
Lebanon where there is terrible poverty.

The Patriarch, whose church numbers five million
worldwide, also called on Europe’s leaders to be more
active in stopping radicalised Muslims entering their
countries, warning against those who reject Western values
and want Sharia law widely implemented.

“There should be a way of screening those who come to
Europe so that they do not embrace extremist ideology. I
do not know how this should happen but it is necessary and
should be done without infringing the rights of those who
are peace-loving and law-abiding,” he said.

“Then there are those from Europe who go to Syria and
elsewhere to wage jihad and who then come back from their
countries. Europe has to be prepared for that.”

Patriarch Aphrem will be the guest-of-honour at the UK
launch of the charity’s Religious Freedom in the
World
report in London in November.

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