UK's Prince Charles speaks out on religious persecution

(Photo: REUTERS/ Miguel Sierra / Pool)Britain's Prince Charles shake hands with local children as he receives an official welcome during his visit to Fundidora Park in Monterrey, November 5, 2014. Charles was in Mexico on a four-day official visit.

Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, has urged Muslim leaders not to remain 'silent' over suffering of minorities and says recognizing the role of religion is central to the UK's "future as a free society."

The Prince of Wales, as he is also known, denounced the persecution of religious minorities in Iraq and Syria in a recorded video message to the charity Aid to the Church in Need, the Catholic Herald reported November 4.

Muslim leaders have a duty to warn their own followers about the "indescribable tragedy" of the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and around the world, Charles said.

"It is an indescribable tragedy that Christianity is now under such threat in the Middle East - an area where Christians have lived for 2,000 years, and across which Islam spread in 700 AD, with people of different faiths living together peaceably for centuries," the prince said.

"It seems to me that our future as a free society – both here in Britain and throughout the world - depends on recognising the crucial role played by people of faith."

He noted that faith leaders must ensure their followers respect believers in other faiths "rather than remaining silent."

Prince Charles described the events in Iraq and Syria as "horrendous and heartbreaking" making the subject of religious freedom and persecution at the limelight of world's news.

"Sadly, incidents of violence in Iraq and Syria are not isolated. They are found throughout some, though not all, of the Middle East; in some African nations; and in many countries across Asia," he said.

The Prince of Wales said that faith leaders have the responsibility to ensure that people in their group will respect those from other faiths.

Charles mentioned the report from Aid to the Church in Need where a Muslim imam, a Catholic archbishop and a Protestant minister came together to form an inter-religious peace group in the Central African Republic.

He also called on governments to uphold Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights upholding the freedom of religion.

"...even in the West this right is often challenged," he said. "Sadly, in many other countries, an absence of freedom to determine one's own faith is woven into the laws and customs of the nation."

The prince has in the past spoken about his thoughts on religious persecution.

Prince Charles said that it is his own Christian faith that enables him "to speak to, and to listen to, people from other traditions, including Islam."

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