"Since the very first days of the Syrian conflict in March 2011, we have prayed as we watched in horror and sorrow the escalating violence that has rent this country apart. We have grieved with all Syrians - with the families of each and every human life lost and with all communities whose neighbourhoods and livelihoods have suffered from escalating and pervasive violence.And from George Conger [here]: Bishop Mouneer Anis warns that tension between Copts and Muslims could plunge Egypt into civil war.
And today, our prayers also go with the ancient communities of our Christian brothers and sisters in Syria. The kidnapping this week of two Metropolitan bishops of Aleppo, Mar Gregorios Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church and Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, and the killing of their driver while they were carrying out a humanitarian mission, is another telling sign of the terrible circumstances that continue to engulf all Syrians..
We unreservedly support these Christian communities, rooted in and attached to the biblical lands, despite the many hardships. We respond to the call from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East, and the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East, urging churches worldwide to remain steadfast in the face of challenging realities and to bear witness to their faith in the power of love in this world.
We both continue to pray for a political solution to this tragic conflict that would stem the terrible violence and also empower all Syrians with their fundamental and inalienable freedoms. We also call for urgent humanitarian aid to reach all who are suffering. We pray that Syria can recapture its tradition of tolerance, rooted in faith and respect for faiths living side by side."
"...The Christian community in Egypt right now is mourning and feels challenged in their own country, as some of them have said, “we have been here since the time of the Pharaohs, this is our country! We will not leave whatever happens. ” On the other hand, there are many educated young people who are immigrating out of the country and this is the saddest thing for me as one of the leaders of the church in Egypt, because I believe that the Christian presence is very much liked with the Christian witness." [also here]
How much blame for this instability and persecution should be laid at the door of the naivety of the West's new-found enthusiasm for 'democracy' in the middle east and our governments' somewhat uncritical support for any groups opposed to repressive regimes in the region is open to debate. Once again, as in Iraq, there seems to be no clear policy as to whom to back when such regimes are toppled.
One thing is very clear: for various reasons (not all of them self-serving) western governments have repeatedly shown very little or no public concern for Christian minorities in majority Muslim countries, something which only encourages the mad delusion of the extremists and the jihadists that the liberal west is incurably weak and corrupt and even ripe for an Islamic takeover.
But, regardless of the seeming indifference of our politicians, Christians in the West, as the archbishops rightly point out, must support our brothers and sisters in the faith and bear witness to the love of Christ.