The Prince of Wales has asked the West to pray for Middle Eastern Christians who are “being deliberately targeted by fundamentalist Islamist militants”.
Speaking to religious leaders at Clarence House, he said “we all lose something immensely and irreplaceably precious when such a rich tradition dating back 2,000 years begins to disappear”.
His comments came after a day of visiting churches and hearing personal testimonies from Middle Eastern Christians who have fled to the UK.
He said he was “deeply troubled” that the birthplace of Christianity now has the lowest concentration of Christians in the world.
Prince Charles said “the decline of Christians” is a major blow to peace as they often act as “bridge-builders between other communities.”
“I believe that Western Christians ought to pray earnestly for fellow-believers in the Middle East”, he added.
“For 20 years, I have tried to build bridges between Islam and Christianity and to dispel ignorance and misunderstanding”, he said.
He explained, “we have now reached a crisis where the bridges are rapidly being destroyed by those with a vested interest”.
Referring to Arab Christians as our “brothers and sisters in Christ” his statement was unequivocal about the “organised persecution” they face.
He described how the Middle Eastern Church links us back to the early church, and called for Christians, Jews and Muslims to unite in “outrage”.
Those at Clarence House saw a more practical demonstration of unity as the Prince was accompanied by Prince Ghazi of Jordan, the Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster and the Chief Rabbi.
Prince Ghazi underlined the historical importance of Christianity in the region describing Arabs as “perhaps the first non-Hebrew Christians in the world”.
Today, Christians account for four per cent of the population in the Middle East and North Africa.
Violence against Christians has been particularly pronounced in the wake of the Arab Spring.
Egypt’s Christians – who form around 10 per cent of the population – have increasingly been targeted by violent attacks following a coup in July, which ousted the former President, Mohamed Morsi.