Home page News
A round table held in Moscow on the situation…

A round table held in Moscow on the situation of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa

On November 5, 2013, a round table on “The situation of Christians: new threats and the humanitarian missions of the Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society” was held in Moscow as part of the 12th church-public exhibition-forum “Orthodox Rus’ – Towards the Day of People’s Unity”. It was organized by the IOPS Moscow branch.

It was attended by the IOPS leaders, ambassadors of the State of Palestine and Syria, Russian ambassadors, Foreign Ministry officials, State Duma deputies, and professors and students of the Faculty of Orthodox Culture of the Peter the Great Strategic Army Academy. The Russian Orthodox Church was represented by Archpriest Nikolay Balashov, vice-chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations.

Addressing the meeting Mr. S. Stepashin, IOPS chairman, reminded the participants that Russia was long seen in the Arab world as a country which comes with humanitarian mission. Among the tasks of the IOPS is to promote this mission in the present situation and to give humanitarian aid to people in hot spots, especially in Syria.

“One of the serious problems today is the situation of civilians in the Middle East, especially in the places swept by the so-called Arab Spring that actually has rather led to winter”, he said, stressing the importance of the efforts made by the state leaders and Russian diplomats to prevent active military actions against Syria.

He also spoke about the efforts for preserving Christianity in the Middle East. These efforts, he said, were not only slogans but our reaction to this serious threat.

With the blessing of Patriarch Kirill and by the agreement with the president of the country and with active support from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Emergencies, the IOPS has given considerable humanitarian aid to the suffering people in Syria, regardless of their religious or ethnic background, Mr. Stepashin said.

He informed the round table about the work the IOPS carried out in the Middle East and North Africa to protect Christians in the Middle East and North Africa in active cooperation with Christian communities there.

“Our today’s conference is not simply an exchange of opinions, it is the exposition of our stand and plan of concrete actions assumed by the IOPS”, he noted.

In his remarks, Mr. Riad Haddad, Syrian ambassador to Russia, thanked the IOPS for the humanitarian aid it gave to the Syrian people. He expressed special thanks to Patriarch Kirill for “giving great attention to the Syrian problem”. He also spoke about the suffering inflicted on his people by international terrorists fighting in Syria, the defilement of people’s shrines, the destruction of churches and numerous killings of Christians. He said the terror threatened all – Christians and Muslims, endangering the peaceful coexistence of religions. To settle the Syrian problem, he said, it was necessary to reject the policy of double standards on the international level.

Mr. Mustafa Fayed, Palestinian ambassador to Russia, spoke about the situation of the Christian population in Palestine. “Christians have always been an integral part of the Palestinian society and played a great role in the development of our people’s culture”, he said stressing with profound regret that at present the number of the Christian population in Palestine was decreasing. “Our people and our leaders devote much attention to the enlargement of the Christian presence in our land”, he said.

The Palestinian ambassador thanked the Russian Orthodox Church and the Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society for their assistance in preserving and extending the presence of Christianity in Palestine.

Archpriest Nikolay Balashov spoke about the grave situation in which Christians found themselves in Syria. “Every day we receive new reports about tragic events linked with the persecution to which our fellow-Christians are subjected in Syria. Half a million of Christians have already become refugees. Tens of churches and monasteries have been destroyed. There are clergy killed. Two prominent Christian hierarchs in Syria have been in captivity for half a year now, and we have no reliable information about their whereabouts and the demands that could be made by their abductors”, he said.

The situation of Christians in a number of other countries in the Middle East remains grave. Hundreds of thousands of them have had to flee Iraq after “democracy began to be implanted” there through the efforts of the USA, whereas these people had been safe in pre-war Iraq. In Libya, after an operation to implant democracy was carried out there, the Christian population is asked to leave the country actually by the state authorities now. The situation of Christians in Egypt becomes ever more vulnerable from day to day, and they have to leave for other places, with some seeking asylum in Russia.

As Father Nikolay noted, this situation affects Christians in other countries of the Middle East as well. “The Russian Orthodox Church speaks about it at every international forum where possible including the General Assembly of the World Council of Churches which is taking place today in South Korean Busan”, he stated.

He also reminded the meeting that this year all the dioceses, parishes and monasteries of the Russian Church conducted a fund-raising campaign for aid to victims of the armed conflict in Syria. Over 1,3 million dollars were collected. “This money, which our parishioners left after divine services, is a manifestation of our people’s solidarity with the suffering people of Syria. The raised funds were handed over to our sister Orthodox Church of Antioch for purchasing the necessities for refugees and distributing aid”.

As a member of the IOPS, Father Nikolay noted that the society already supplied some seven humanitarian aid cargos to Syria. The aid is divided between the two leaders of religious communities in that country, with one half distributed through the Supreme Mufti of Syria and another half through the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch.

Speaking about real mechanisms of supporting Christians and preventing their increasing persecution in the world today, Archpriest Nikolay Balashov recalled that the European Parliament adopted in 2011 a resolution whereby any aid, either economic or political or financial, to a country in which the rights of Christians are violated should be exchanged for guarantees of safety for the Christian population. “It is an excellent resolution but we have not seen its implementation to this day”, he said, “I think we should see to it that the adopted decisions should be implemented. It is important to draw the attention of the world public opinion to the tragedy of the destruction of Christianity in the lands of its origin. Unfortunately, most of the world mass media keep silent about this problem as if it does not exist”.

In conclusion of the meeting, Mr. Stepashin proposed that the round table as part of the Orthodox Rus’ – Towards the Day of the People’s Unity exhibition-forum become a regular platform for discussing the protection of Christian in various parts of the world.

DECR Communication Service

Share:
Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church convenes for second day of work

24.09.2021

Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church completes first day of session

23.09.2021

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill presides at a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church

23.09.2021

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill opens conference on primacy and conciliarity in Orthodoxy

16.09.2021

Presentation by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill at the opening of the ‘World Orthodoxy: Primacy and Conciliarity in the Light of Orthodox Dogmatic Teaching’ conference

16.09.2021

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill will open a Conference on the Primacy and Conciliarity in Orthodoxy

14.09.2021

Patriarch Kirill leads celebration of Alexander Nevsky’s 800th birthday anniversary in St.Petersburg

12.09.2021

Greetings by the Patriarch to the Russian athletes who participated in the 16th Summer Paralympic Games in Tokyo

06.09.2021

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia awards special representative of the Coptic Patriarchate Dr. Anton Milad

03.09.2021

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill: the evil forces are tearing apart the unity of the Orthodox Churches

29.08.2021

Message of greeting from His Holiness Patriarch Kirill to participants in the festival ‘Russia-Greece. Together through the Centuries’

21.08.2021

Patriarchal greetings to Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and All Ukraine with anniversary of his enthronement

17.08.2021

Condolences of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill on the death of Protopresbyter Leonid Kishkovsky

04.08.2021

The Primate of the Antiochian Church expresses gratitude to Patriarch Kirill for help in supplying the Lebanon with Covid-19 vaccines

27.07.2021

Patriarch wishes Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk happy 55th birthday

24.07.2021

Synod emphasizes importance of speaking at various international forums about discrimination of Orthodox Christians in Ukraine

24.09.2021

Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church convenes for second day of work

24.09.2021

Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church completes first day of session

23.09.2021

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill presides at a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church

23.09.2021

Chinese version of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill’s book In His Own Words to be presented in Moscow

22.09.2021

Metropolitan Hilarion: Constantinople encroaches on others’ property

20.09.2021

Metropolitan Hilarion: President of Montenegro works to divide the population of the country, on religious grounds in particular

19.09.2021

Metropolitan Hilarion: the Patriarch of Constantinople claims special privileges akin to those of the pope

19.09.2021

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk takes part remotely in a conference of patristic scholars in Vienna

18.09.2021

DECR chairman attends conference on World Orthodoxy: Primacy and Conciliarity in Light of Orthodox Teaching

16.09.2021

Constantinople’s claims to power as a threat to Church unity

16.09.2021

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill opens conference on primacy and conciliarity in Orthodoxy

16.09.2021

DECR chairman meets with U.S. Ambassador to Russian Federation

15.09.2021

DECR Chairman meets with a delegation of religious and state leaders from Kyrgyzstan

14.09.2021

The book “The Holy Mystery of the Church” by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk is published in Romanian

14.09.2021

Metropolitan Hilarion: Many things in a person's life depend on faith

29.08.2021

Metropolitan Hilarion: The Holy Spirit is the main treasure of the Christian soul

01.08.2021

Metropolitan Hilarion: Holiness is a constant striving to imitate the Lord Jesus Christ

27.06.2021

Metropolitan Hilarion: God does not want to condemn, but to save us

07.03.2021

Metropolitan Hilarion: The Lord always grants to us the opportunity to display our talents

24.01.2021

Metropolitan Hilarion: The Lord has imbued the waters of Jordan with his divine presence to wash away human sins

19.01.2021

Metropolitan Hilarion: to repent means to change your way of life

17.01.2021

On commemoration day of St. Catherine, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk officiated at the Church of St. Catherine the Great Martyr In-the-Fields  the representation of the Orthodox Church in America

07.12.2020

Metropolitan Hilarion: We can always show compassion for people

29.11.2020

Metropolitan Hilarion celebrates on commemoration day of St. Varlaam of Khutyn at the church of ‘Joy to All the Afflicted’ icon of the Mother of God

19.11.2020

Metropolitan Hilarion: We should remember that the life of each human being is in the hands of God

06.11.2020

Metropolitan Hilarion: For God there is nothing impossible

25.10.2020

Metropoplitan Hilarion: The cross which was an instrument of dishonourable execution becomes the symbol of salvation for millions of people

27.09.2020

Metropolitan Hilarion: Eucharist is the wedding feast, to which Lord Jesus Christ invites each of us

13.09.2020

Metropolitan Hilarion: Faith alone is not enough for salvation

30.08.2020

Page is available in the following languages
Feedback

Fields marked by * are mandatory required

Send a message
Рус Укр Eng Deu Ελλ Fra Ita Бълг ქარ Срп Rom عرب