Muslim leaders have a duty to warn their own followers about the “indescribable tragedy” of the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and around the world, the Prince of Wales has insisted.
He said that faith leaders must ensure their followers respect believers in other faiths “rather than remaining silent”.
His comments came in a special message recorded for the publication of a new report which concludes that Christians are the “most persecuted religious minority” in the world and that Muslim countries dominate the list of places where religious freedom is most under threat.
While emphasising the importance of his own personal Christian faith, he also signalled that he saw his role as to “defend” followers of other faiths including Islam.
Britain’s “future as a free society” depends on recognising the “crucial role” played by people of faith, he said.
But he warned that freedom of religion is also being “challenged” in Western countries.
His remarks come as a report by the Roman Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, found that the last two years have been a period of “serious decline” in religious freedom in many parts of the world.
Although the report concludes that Christians are suffering the most widespread persecution – across the Middle East, Africa, Asia and elsewhere – it also points out that Muslims are coming under “serious” threat.
It also argues that religious freedom is in “decline” in the UK and other western countries, because of both a fear of extremism and a growing belief that faith should have no place in public life.
The report singles out the rise of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, also known as Isis and Isil, which has set about the systematic destruction of a Christian community dating back almost 2,000 years.
SOURCE: John Bingham