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Holy Land bishops: some Muslims, along with Christians, face persecution in Middle East

Catholic World News - April 03, 2014

The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land has issued a statement emphasizing that Christians are not the only persons are suffering persecution in the Middle East.

The Catholic bishops cautioned against the tendency of people in the Western world to speak about persecution of Christians in the region, saying that such a claim "plays into the hands of extremists." Many Muslims, too, are the victims of rising intolerance, they said.

“There is no doubt that the recent upheavals in the Middle East, initially called the Arab Spring, have opened the way for extremist groups and forces that, in the name of a political interpretation of Islam, are wreaking havoc in many countries, particularly in Iraq, Egypt and Syria,” the prelates stated. “There is no doubt that many of these extremists consider Christians as infidels, as enemies, as agents of hostile foreign powers or simply as an easy target for extortion.”

“However, in the name of truth, we must point out that Christians are not the only victims of this violence and savagery,” the bishops continued. “Secular Muslims, all those defined as ‘heretic,’ ‘schismatic’ or simply ‘non-conformist’ are being attacked and murdered in the prevailing chaos. In areas where Sunni extremists dominate, Shiites are being slaughtered. In areas where Shiite extremists dominate, Sunnis are being killed.”

The ordinaries also criticized those Christians who supported the repressive regimes that existed before the Arab Spring. “Instead, loyalty to their faith and concern for the good of their country should perhaps have led them to speak out much earlier, telling the truth and calling for necessary reforms.”

“Christians and Muslims need to stand together against the new forces of extremism and destruction,” the prelates added. “The outside world will not make any real move to protect us. International and local political powers seek their own interests. We, alone, can build a common future together.”

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