Prince Charles Mentions Muslims, Religious Persecution, 'Populist Groups' in His Christmas Message

Susan Jones | December 23, 2016 | 6:51am EST
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The Prince of Wales delivers his Christmas message, speaking about religious persecution in the Middle East and warning against intolerance and "monstrous extremism." (Screen grab from BBC Radio 4)

( - "Normally at Christmas, we think of the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ," Prince Charles said in a Christmas message broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Thursday.

"I wonder, though, if this year we might remember how the story of the Nativity unfolds, with the fleeing of the Holy Family to escape violent persecution. And we might also remember that when the Prophet Mohammed migrated from Mecca to Medina, he did so because he, too, was seeking the freedom for himself and his followers to worship."   

The heir to the British throne and the eventual Defender of the Faith continued: "Whichever religious path we follow, the destination is the same -- to value and respect the other person, accepting their right to live out their peaceful response to the love of God.

"That’s what I saw when attending the consecration of the Syriac Orthodox Cathedral in London recently. Here were a people persecuted for their religion in their own country, but finding refuge in another land and freedom to practice their faith according to their conscience. It is an example to inspire us all this Christmastime."

Earlier in his message, Charles talked about the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East -- at the hands of radical Islamists, although he did not  specifically say that.

Charles talked about meeting a Jesuit priest from Syria, who gave him a "graphic account" of what like is like for Christians there.

"He told me of mass kidnappings in parts of Syria and Iraq and how he feared that Christians will be driven en masse out of lands described in the Bible.  He thought it quite possible there will be no Christians in Iraq within five years."

Charles said the "scale of religious persecution around the world is not widely appreciated." And it's not limited to Christians, he added, mentioning the escalating attacks on Yazidis, Jews, Ahmadis, Baha’is and other minority faiths.

The result of religious persecution is the refugee crisis: Charles noted that persecution prompted another 5.8 million people to flee their homes in 2015.

"And the suffering doesn’t end when they arrive, seeking refuge in a foreign land. We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive towards those who adhere to a minority faith."

Without naming those groups, Charles called their rise "deeply disturbing" and a throwback to "the dark days of the 1930s."

"I was born in 1948 – just after the end of World War II in which my parents' generation had fought, and died, in a battle against intolerance, monstrous extremism and an inhuman attempt to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe.

"That nearly seventy years later we should still be seeing such evil persecution is, to me, beyond all belief. We owe it to those who suffered and died so horribly not to repeat the horrors of the past."

The complete text of Charles's Christmas message can be found here.

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