Suffering brought by Arab Spring

The head of the Church of England is calling for the British Government to do more to protect Christian communities from being singled out in violent attacks in the Middle East.

Last month, around 100 Christian sites were attacked in Egypt, with 42 churches being burned to the ground.

The Most Reverend Justin Welby said the church had been raising its fears for Christians abroad with the UKs Foreign Secretary, and wants other Governments to act.

According to Britain’s Foreign Office, religious minorities in the Middle East and North Africa are suffering as a result of instability linked to the Arab Spring.

Substantial numbers of Christians are leaving the region – most notably from Iraq.

The Archbishop also said there had been more than 80 Christian martyrs in the last week.

The Reverend Canon Andrew White is vicar of St George’s Church in Baghdad – the only Anglican Church left in Iraq:

“I’m surrounded by armed soldiers and police all the time – I’ve been held at gun point – and threatened but these are my people, I cannot leave them.”

Protection for minority communities

Iraq used to be home to half a million Christians – but since the war in 2003, that number has dropped to 200,000.

And that number continues to deplete.

Dubbed the Vicar of Baghdad, Canon Andrew White, who is currently in Iraq, said the situation there is for minority Christians is dangerous.

Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, which is the church of Egypt and the largest Christian denomination in the Middle East, says minority communities everywhere need to be protected:

“There is a definitely a rise in people who have lost their lives for practicing their faith and I think the majority of that impact has been felt within the Christian communities.

“There is a rise of radical and more intolerant radicalism in the Middle East that is targeting Christians and smaller Muslim and tribal communities.

“There is a sense of disorder that falls upon minority communities so they need to be protected.”

Article 18 of the Universal declaration of human rights, stipulates that everyone anywhere in the world has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

It seems the plight of the small but ancient communities in the Middle East is largely being ignored.

Meanwhile the Christian Solidarity International has issued an alert for the prevention of genocide.