The precarious position of Christians in the Middle East is known to all.
This Thursday (December 17) the Prince of Wales added his name to that of several other dignitaries who in the past months spoke about the danger that Christians are facing. He warned that the future of Christianity is in jeopardy in the Middle East.
Speaking to refugees from the region and to members of the clergy from Middle Eastern churches, he warned: “There is a very real crisis that threatens the very existence of Christianity in its place of origin. This affects us all. Christianity is not a foreign religion in the Middle East. It has been part of the Middle East for 2,000 years.”
The Prince was speaking at an Advent reception hosted by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, at Archbishop’s House, for members of various Middle-Eastern Christian denominations.
Such public statement are well and good. But the Lithuania Parliament did one better this week. It has become the first EU country to legally call the persecution of Christians in the Middle East by Isis and other Muslim organisations genocide. This week’s edition of the “The Tablet” reports on the motion with some detail and that report forms the basis of this commentary.
In a resolution approved almost unanimously, the Lithuanian Parliament called on the United Nations and the European Parliament to recognise the plight of Christians in the Middle East - and in particular in Syria, Iraq, Iran and north Africa - as an act of genocide and to act in accordance with the UN Human Rights Convention.
The Lithuanian Parliamentarians said that “systematic violence against Christians and other religious minorities”, carried out by the “so-called ‘Islamic State’ (Da’esh) and other extremist militant groups in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Syria, and North Africa”.
The resolution concludes that Christians and other religious minorities in this region are targeted “on religious grounds” therefore the atrocities carried against them, including killings, kidnappings, serious bodily and mental harm, sexual slavery and other forms of violence “only may be considered as genocide and, by this Resolution, is treated as the crime of genocide under international law”.
This is considered to be a very important diplomatic step which is expected to put pressure on the European Parliament to debate the persecution of Christians as a genocide.
Will the Maltese government present a similar motion before our Parliament to put on more pressure to help Christians in the Middle East?
If Government is not forthcoming will the Opposition present a private members motion?
Will Maltese MEPs follow this important initiative and put pressure so that the European Parliament will discuss this genocide?
One hopes that Malta will follow in the footsteps of Lithuania.
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