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Archbishop warns Christians in Middle East facing 'imminent extinction,' 'horrendous prosecution

Justin Welby, The Archbishop of Canterbury gives a speech as he attends a service marking the centenary of WW1 armistice at Westminster Abbey on November 11, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Grover- WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is warning that Christians in the Middle East are facing “imminent extinction,” and a threat equal to the Mongol invasions of the 13th Century.

Despite what is described as “horrendous persecution,” just one in 400 Syrian refugees granted asylum in the UK last year were Christian, The Telegraph reported.

Still, the most senior clergyman in the Church of England believes the solution is to take in more refugees.

What is happening?

“Christians face daily the threat of violence, murder, intimidation, prejudice and poverty,” the archbishop wrote in the Telegraph.

“In the last few years, they have been slaughtered by so-called Islamic State, and in many countries they find themselves squeezed between the upper and lower millstones of pressure on them within society and of conflicts that afflict the region," he stated.

“Many have left. Hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes. Many have been killed, enslaved and persecuted or forcibly converted. Even those who remain ask the question, 'Why stay?' The Christian population of Iraq, for instance, is less than half what it was in 2003 and their churches, houses and businesses have been damaged or destroyed. The Syrian Christian population has halved since 2010. As a result, across the region Christian communities that were the foundation of the universal Church now face the threat of imminent extinction.”

“The Christians of the region are facing the worst situation since the Mongol invasions of the 13th Century,” he added.

Even when Christians face no physical danger, tensions regions like Israel can make life difficult, the archbishop said.

He asked fellow Christians to “remember Christians in the Middle East and pray for them.”

Christians to should not have to choose between President Assad “under whom they were tolerated” and “the unimaginable horrors and threats of so-called Islamic State," he said.

“We must support and help them in every way we can," the Archbishop stated. "Where they wish to leave, they will be refugees in need of asylum. Where, courageously and by the grace of God, they choose to remain, they need publicity and external, visible support."

Archbishop Welby will appear Tuesday at a service with Prince Charles, who is expected to talk about forgiveness and reconciliation. The archbishop is expected to talk about Christians in the Middle East.

How many Christians receive asylum?

According to the report:

“In June, a Freedom of Information request found just 11 of those admitted to Britain under the Government’s flagship Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme (VPRS) in 2017 were Christian. This is despite an estimated 10 per cent of the Syrian population being Christian at the start of the civil war.

"The number of Christians granted asylum by Britain has slumped considerably since 2016, when 1.5 per cent were Christians. Last year that percentage dropped to just 0.23 - amounting to 11 of the 4,832 Syrians who were resettled in the UK.”

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