Archbishop Theodosios, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem addresses an American Christian audience on the issues of Syria, Palestine and conflict in the Middle East.
Translated from Arabic
Theodosios (Atallah Hanna) of Sebastia of the Greek Orthodox Church said yesterday (22/07/13) when addressing a delegation of America Christian churches, "we hear a lot of voices in the West,
which call for the protection of Christian minorities in the Middle East demanding the maintenance of their rights, their survival and the continuity of their existence but at the same time we see
that there are some forces in the West that finance, arm and encourage extremist elements and these same elements and armed groups are targeting Christians."
"I would like to say to the West and with the utmost clarity that you’re arming of the so-called “Syrian opposition” has lead to the targeting of Christians, expelling them and weakening their
presence in Syria. These parties of armed extremists exploit religion for political purposes and are targeting Christians; the religion itself is completely innocent of this. If we can say that
the displacement of Christians today from the Arab region is funded by the West than this is a bitter reality which must be said and heard by some of the leaders in the West who flaunt the
protection of Christian minorities in the Middle East. Stop supporting extremism, fundamentalism and violence, if you want to actually help the Middle East you have to face down the scourge of
extremism and violence and not support colonial interests in the Middle East with money and weapons"
He added: "We refuse to be characterised as a minority who needs to be protected in our homelands, we are an essential component part of the fabric of this region and have no choice ahead of us
but to cling to our Arab identity and defend our homeland and lives in the East along with our fellow Muslims in an atmosphere of religious brotherhood and national unity in the civil democratic
manner where there is no majority or minority, but the citizen whose rights must be safeguarded regardless of religious or political affiliation. The
support of some Western powers for some violent armed parties creates an atmosphere of tension and provokes hatred and strife in Arab societies if the international community wants stability for
the Middle East, it must work with integrity to solve all dilemmas away from violence and slaughter. Slaughtering the innocent and devising sophisticated means to carry out the death sentence
will not lead to democracy, but will inflame religious and sectarian conflicts and the price will be paid by all the sons of the Middle East, both Muslims and Christians."
is there a suspicious silence regarding the kidnapping of Archbishops from Aleppo?" He went on: "Why is there a suspicious silence on the kidnapping of the Archbishops of Aleppo and the suffering of
the Christians in Syria targeted like all the sons of the Syrian? Will the displacement of Christians from Syria, their killing and
slaughter and the destruction of their churches lead to an alleged democracy? Has the west a contradictory position I wonder. Do you want theMiddle East free of Christians? Is your aim to
empty Arab region of Christians at the service of Israel's interest, which does not want an Arab Christian defending Arab rights, particularly on the question of Palestine?
Are Christians exposed to targeting because they defend the interests of the Arab nation? We really do not trust the West, which says it wants to protect Christians, but in fact wants to protect its interests and the interests of Israel at the expense of Christians and Muslims in the East. Do not tell us that you are keen on the Christian presence in the East, because your own policy contradicts this position. Syria is destroyed and her children killed and innocent people slaughtered, you say you want democracy for Syria, what democracy are you talking about, what happens in Syria happens in other Arab countries as well. We wish for Syria an end to its violence as soon as possible and that her children will engage in dialogue for the future of their country and for a halt to this massive destruction inflicted on the country that we love so much. "
He added: "I challenge you to support the Palestinian people in achieving their national aspirations, be with justice and do not side with the oppressor at the expense of the oppressed. Contribute to a just solution on the question of Palestine, our people deserve freedom. The humiliation of Palestinian dignity is an affront to all humanity, as we said in the document Kairos Palestinian we wish for the culture of the civil state, we don't want a religious Jewish state nor a Muslim nor a Christian state but a civil state with human dignity and human rights that does not discriminate against anyone based on religious or sectarian affiliation. We wish Egypt and its people to succeed in achieving their civil state as in all Arab countries. We have to make this East an oasis for peace and love away from extremism, intolerance and violence. In the interest of the peoples of the East if you want to contribute to achieving justice, peace and love between people support the civil State and do not fund extremism and violence and armed groups that exploit religion for purposes that are not religious."
Arabic original here
Note: Illustrations and descriptions added by this blog