Amman, September 7, 2013
His Beatitude Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine Theophilus III, heads and representatives of other Churches and confessions of the Middle East and Africa, delegates of international Christian organizations, Muftis of states of the Middle East region, heads and members of international Muslim organizations, scientists and theologians arrived to the conference.
With the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church took part in the forum. The delegation included Metropolitan Theodosy of Tambov and Rasskazovo and Igumen Theophan (Lukyanov), acting head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem. Alexander Kalugin, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Jordan, was present at the opening of the forum.
On the first day of the conference's work, its participants were received in his residence in Amman by the king of Jordan Abdullah II who addressed those present with his welcoming speech. At the end of the reception the king arranged dinner for the guests.
Prince Ghazi Bin Muhammad spoke at the conference's opening. In his speech he said, specifically, the following:
"In Jordan, we feel that for the first time for hundreds of years the Arab Christians have become a target in some countries. Not only did they become victims of the blind and deaf instigation to revolt from which everyone in certain Arab countries has suffered since the beginning of what is wrongly called "the Arab spring". But they are also suffering just because they are Christians. It is absolutely and categorically unacceptable for us. Firstly, we do not accept it according to our Holy law as Muslims before God. Secondly, we do not accept it morally as Arabs and relatives. Thirdly, we do not accept it on the level of our feelings as neighbours and dear friends. And, fourthly, we do not accept it personally as human beings.
Over last 13 centuries we, both Arab Muslims and Arab Christians, have been one, undivided society.... Here it is impossible to express that huge role that on all levels and in all spheres Arab Christians have played in creation of our countries and in protection of them from all those who had ever attacked us. I should remind myself and the whole world about two things.
First: Christians had appeared in this region earlier than Muslims. They are not aliens, not colonizers, not foreigners. They are natives of these lands and are the same Arabs as Muslims are. Second: throughout our long history in this region Muslims have never forced anyone to accept Islam against their will. Force also contradicts the word of God in the Holy Koran....
The Arab Christians have always supported and strengthened the Arab Muslims in the struggle against foreign aggression.... During the period of struggle with colonialism Christians were on the front line.... Now in Syria, Iraq and Egypt they are being persecuted, their Churches are being burnt, their Priests, Monks and Nuns are being kidnapped and even killed, and at the same time they are not armed to defend themselves.
They are obeying the words of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, Who said: "If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also" (Matthew 5:39). We, Muslims, must remember it. We must also remember that Christians of Abyssinia were the first to accept the Muslims and to defend them, when they were weak.... We cannot allow persecution of Christians as well as any other religious or racial minorities to take place for whatever reason".
The position of the Russian Orthodox Church regarding the situation of Christians in the Middle East was represented in the report of Metropolitan Theodosy of Tambov and Rasskazovo. The words of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, said by him on August 28 this year, were cited in the report:
"We know what is happening in Syria, how Christian Churches are being destroyed, how people are being destroyed, killed only because they believe in Christ the Saviour. This is happening under the influence of the evil force of those who, while proclaiming that the aim of their struggle is justice, bring the death, destruction and murder of Christians, including Orthodox".
Metropolitan Theodosy also noted that, "The ideology of radicalism which is being spread within the Arab world and which instructs Muslims to war against Christians, not only has became a tragedy for Christians in the Middle East, but also has become destructive for the Arab countries themselves.... Christians, especially those who belong to one, Arab nation, consider Arab Muslims as their neighbours and even brothers in blood. Christians follow the words of the New Testament: "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Romans 12:18).... The Russian Church is calling upon national, regional, international public and humanitarian organizations to raise their voice in defense of rights of Arab Christians and to do their possible to retain peace and the traditional Christian presence in the Middle East".