Brentwood Cathedral will be floodlit in red during the whole of November to highlight the plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East.
Since the start of the war in Syria in 2011, nearly a third of
Syria’s Christians, about 600,000, have fled the country, driven out by
extremist groups like the Nusra Front and Islamic State.
Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III Laham said in 2014 that more than 1,000
Christians had been killed, entire villages cleared, and dozens of
churches and Christian centres damaged or destroyed.
November is traditionally the month in which the Church remembers the
dead and by turning its facade red every night for the month the
Cathedral hopes more people will become aware of the suffering of
Father Martin Boland, the Dean of Brentwood Cathedral, said: "In the
Middle East, between a half and two-thirds of Christians have left the
region or been killed in the past century. What was once a biblical
heartland for Christians, is now a wasteland. Christianity is being
wiped out in this region. After the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Iraqi
Christian community became vulnerable to persecution. This was
highlighted by the 2006 beheading of a kidnapped Orthodox priest, Father
Boulos Iskander, and the kidnapping of 17 further priests and two
bishops between 2006 and 2010.
“It is time for governments and international bodies to highlight the
human rights abuses faced by Christians in the Middle East and to
respond to them. If they don't, then Christianity will be wiped out in
this region in a systematic and violent way.
“In November, nobody passing Brentwood Cathedral at night will be
able to turn a blind eye to it and nobody, believer or non-believer,
Christian or non-Christian, should turn a blind eye to the persecution
of Christians in the Middle East."
In Iraq Sunni Muslims have suffered terribly as well, with an
estimated 3.1 million displaced Iraqis, 85 per cent of whom are Sunnis.