Well my current favourite Archbishop had the main interview on the World at One on Radio 4 yesterday. The BBC has a report on their website.
He was commenting on the situation in the Middle East. What was fascinating listening to him was the strong language that he used. Rowan is sometimes accused of being too academic to be understood. That seems to be reducing in the past week. His editorship of the New Statesman brought a huge amount of comment. But in his comments yesterday he stated that Christians in Iraq had been “ethnically cleansed”. He told the interviewer that the situation in Egypt was far worse for Christians than many realised. He said that tensions in Syria were rising between Christians and Muslims. He also pointed out that whereas 20 years ago Christians in Bethlehem were in a majority they were now “marginalised minority”.
I think that his comments are to be very much welcomed. He didn’t just make the comments about Christians but about all minorities and that there is a real danger that in a political vacuum that extremist Islamic forces will try and take control.
He did talk of the hope of real democracy taking root which by its nature should protect minorities as well as linking British aid to treatment of minorities (which interestingly isn’t reported in the link above). I think that this would be a very reasonable and good way forward. British aid is important to many troubled areas of the world and it is not unreasonable that vulnerable minorities should have a better level of protection.
++Rowan is back on the BBC news this morning talking about the rising violence in Sudan and the danger of another Darfur:
“Along with the Christian leaders represented in the Sudan Ecumenical Forum and Council of Churches and many more throughout the world, we deplore the mounting level of aggression and bloodshed in South Kordofan State and the indiscriminate violence on the part of government troops against civilians. Numerous villages have been bombed. More than 53,000 people have been driven from their homes. The new Anglican cathedral in Kadugli has been burned down. UN personnel in the capital, Kadugli, are confined to their compound and are unable to protect civilians; the city has been overrun by the army, and heavy force is being used by government troops to subdue militias in the area, with dire results for local people. Many brutal killings are being reported. “
It is great to hear ++Rowan speak out and I’m pleased that he has been able to get such a public hearing. Maybe this is a consequence of his comments in the New Statesman last week.