Middle East: keeping the human tragedy in mind

On Tuesday, the President of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches (FSPC) and the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE), Gottfried Locher, opened the “3rd Conference for Maintaining the Presence of Christian Minorities in the Middle East.” Locher emphasized his appreciation for the courage and resilience of Christian women and men in the region and called for worldwide solidarity with those persecuted and for the protection of human rights.

left to right: Rev. Andrea Zaki, FMEEC President, Rosangela Jarjour, FMEEC Secretary General, Rev. Gottfried Locher, CPCE and FSPC President  

Since the beginning of the war in Syria, the Christian minorities have been subjected to massive forced displacement and daily persecution due to their religious affiliation. They are among the millions of people fleeing war and terror. Today, the 2000-year presence of Christians in the Middle East is called into question. “In this dark hour for the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches, it is important to me to be with you,” Gottfried Locher emphasized in his opening speech:  “We belong to the same family of churches – your fears are our fears as well, and a threat to you is a threat to us,” said Locher, President of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches (FSPC) and the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE). On behalf of the CPCE, he thanked the churches in the region and honored their courageous decision to organize the conference despite the extremely tense political situation. The FSPC President said that the churches are working for reconciliation and striving against political and religious fundamentalism.

He reminded his audience that the difficult situation of Christians in the Middle East also concerns the churches of Europe. They are showing their solidarity – by supporting relief projects, among other things. “But we know very well that this is not enough,” Gottfried Locher stressed: “Our governments in Europe are talking about refugee statistics and defense measures while all too often losing sight of the human tragedy that is happening here.” He said that the majority of Europeans were insufficiently aware of how serious the situation of Christians in the Middle East really is. “For this reason, it is important to us to be here in Beirut today. We will carry this message back to Europe and the world at large,” said Locher.

After Beirut (2012) and Cairo (2014), the third conference organized by the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC) was held November 22-24, 2016, in Beirut.