Brussels, May 26, Interfax – Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the European International Organizations Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and all Austria urges to protects interests of Christian population in Islamic countries, the Representation’s press-service has reported to Interfax-Religion.
Bishop Hilarion named Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia and Philippines among the countries where Christians were persecuted when the bishop was speaking at the European encounter Shared Values for a Changing Europe – Contributions of Cultures and Religions in Rovereto, Italy.
“Kidnapping and murders of Christian clerics have become the reality of every day life in Iraq. Converting into Christianity may result in death penalty in Afghanistan. There is no Christian church in Saudi Arabia,” the Moscow Patriarchate representative stated.
Speaking about Europe, Bishop Hilarion drew participants’ attention to Kosovo where the churches were violently destroyed and thousands of Christians, bereft of home, were consigned to exile.
According to him, the occupied part of Cyprus remains in tight situation as the churches are destroyed there and Christian population suffers badly.
The Moscow Patriarchate’s representative pointed out that Turkey negated interests of Christian population and mentioned as an instance that Turkish authorities refused to open a theological school on Khalkis Island in spite of persistent requests of the Constantinople Patriarchate.
Bishop Hilarion hope that Christian-Islamic dialogue in compliance with words of Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia expressed in his letter to 138 Muslim leaders will not only work out theological questions but influence actual situation with Christian population in Islamic countries.
This definitely echoes Pope Benedict’s comments almost two years ago, summed up here:
Benedict XVI undoubtedly wants to achieve better relations with Islam, but there is an important proviso.
It can be summed up in a single word: reciprocity. It means that if Muslims want to enjoy religious freedom in the West, then Christians should have an equal right to follow their faith in Islamic states, without fear of persecution.
This needs to become the mantra of European, American and other Christian leaders who live in security from large-scale persecution. Muslims make their feelings very clear every time somebody does something even slightly offensive. I don’t expect Christians to riot in the streets or issue death threats/fatwas, as this is one of the essential differences between Christianity and Islam; however, there needs to be some equal but opposite outcry in Western and/or Christian countries when much greater atrocities than cartoons and misinterpreted speeches occur, such as priest beheadings, bishop kidnappings, child crucifixions, and 12-year-old girl gang-rapings. They will take us much more seriously if we actually act like we care.
Islam has a built-in system of government and law, called Sharia, upon which all governments and legal systems in majority-Muslim countries are, to greater or lesser extents, based. Islam, therefore, is just as much political theory as religion. Just as there were crackdowns on and close observations of the Communist Party during the Cold War and the American Nazi Party during World War II, there should be similar constraints put upon Islamic groups in America. CAIR is a good volunteer with which to get this started.
Islam is also a religion that believes, similar to other Western religions like Christianity and Judaism, in a universal brotherhood of believers. With this and the above in mind, I don’t think that it is stepping too terribly far out of line to advocate a policy of reciprocity. If Muslim nations refuse to meet the basic demands issued by Christian nations, namely, that Christians within Islamic nations be allowed to worship freely, build their own churches, religiously educate their children and otherwise freely and openly practice their faith, similar constraints should be placed upon their Muslim brethren living in Christian nations. If it is a crime in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace and capitol of Islam, to carry a Bible in public, wear a Cross, or possess a Rosary, why should it be legal in the Christian world to carry a copy of the Koran, wear a crescent, or possess a misbaha?
This may sound harsh. The obvious (and obviously true) response to all of this is: we’re better than them! It’s a bit Machiavellian, but the ends here justify the means. The bigger, stronger, persecution-free Christians of the West need to stand up somehow for their oppressed brethren living under Muslim rule. Otherwise, the Muslims will continue to view Christians as infinitely divided and weak and unconcerned. And the conquest will continue.