Israeli Catholic leaders: Christians, secular Muslims suffer from Islamist attacks

The Church of the Beatitudes, a Catholic church on the northern coast of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. Credit: Antonio Barluzzi.

( Christians, along with secular Muslims and others, are suffering at the hands of extremist Islamists in the Middle East, according to Catholic leaders in Israel.

In a communique issued by the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land, Catholic leaders said that the repeated references by people in the West to the persecution of Christians may “play into the hands of extremists” whose “aim is to sow prejudice and hatred, setting peoples and religions against one another.”

“There is no doubt that the recent upheavals in the Middle East, initially called the Arab Spring, have opened the way for extremist groups and forces that, in the name of a political interpretation of Islam, are wreaking havoc in many countries, particularly in Iraq, Egypt and Syria,” the communique said.

“There is no doubt that many of these extremists consider Christians as infidels, as enemies, as agents of hostile foreign powers or simply as an easy target for extortion,” it added.

But the Catholic leaders pointed out that Christians are not the only victims of such extremism, with secular Muslims and others being targeted as well.

“Secular Muslims, all those defined as ‘heretic,’ ‘schismatic’ or simply ‘non-conformist,’ are being attacked and murdered in the prevailing chaos,” said the communique.

The Catholic leaders also said Christians and Muslims need to stand together and rely on each other because “the outside world will not make any real move to protect us.”

“Together, we must seek out all those who dream as we do of a society in which Muslims and Christians and Jews are equal citizens, living side by side, building together a society in which new generations can live and prosper,” the leaders said.

Posted on April 3, 2014 .