Christianity: Christians are being deliberately attacked because of their faith across parts of the Muslim world and even martyred for their faith in large numbers, the Archbishop of Canterbury has warned.
By John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor
The Most Rev Justin Welby said that there had been more than 80 Christian “martyrs” in the last few days alone.
He was speaking about the bombing of All Saints Anglican church in Peshawar, Pakistan, in which 85 were killed and more than 200 injured.
But he said that Christians were also being singled out for violence in a string of other countries.
Christian communities which have existed “in many cases since the days of Saint Paul” are now under threat in countries such as Syria and Egypt, he said.
Last month around 100 Christian sites were attacked amid the turmoil in Egypt, with 42 churches burnt to the ground. Ancient Christian communities in Syria have also been singled out for violence.
But speaking during an interview on BBC Radio 4, Archbishop Welby, who leads almost 80 million Anglicans around the world, said it was the duty of Christians to pray for their killers.
He said that in many cases apparently religious conflicts are actually bound up with other social and historical grievances but that this could not explain several recent attacks on Christian.
“The appearance is often deceptive but I think Christians have been attacked in some cases simply because of their faith,” he said.
“I think it is true to say – and also in Peshawar – that we have seen more than 80 martyrs in the last few days.
“They have been attacked because they were testifying to their faith in Jesus Christ by going to church.
“That is outside any acceptable expression in any circumstances for any reason of religious difference.”
He said the Church had been raising its fears for Christians abroad with the Foreign Secretary William Hague and called on other Governments to act to protect them
But he added: “As Christians one of the things is that we pray for justice and particularly the issues around the anger that comes from his kind of killing.
“But we are also called as Jesus did at the cross to pray for those who are doing us harm.”
He also emphasized that the Muslim religious leaders in Britain and overseas had been as appalled at the attacks on Christians as he was.
A Pakistani man helps an injured victim of a suicide attack at a Christian church in Peshawar, Pakistan, September 22, 2013. (AP)
A Pakistani couple help an injured victim of a suicide attack at a church in Peshawar, Pakistan, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. A suicide bomb attack on a historic church in northwestern Pakistan killed scores of people on Sunday, officials said, in one of the worst assaults on the country’s Christian minority in years. AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad
A picture taken on August 14, 2013, shows the facade of the Prince Tadros Coptic church after being torched by unknown assailants in the central Egyptian city of Minya. (AFP PHOTO/STR)
Pakistani Christians stage a protest in Lahore on September 22, 2013, against the killing of their community members in two suicide bomb attacks on a Church in Peshawar.
St. Gevorg church in Aleppo’s Armenian-populated district of Nor Kyugh, Syria, after a Muslim attack and arson, October, 2012.
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