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Christians’ plight in Middle East ‘tragic,’ says Catholic leader
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Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, the Head of the Maronite Catholic Church, discusses Christian persecution in the Middle East.

By Rima Maktabi

1/15/2011 Lebanon (CNN) – For a quarter of a century Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir has been Lebanon’s most influential religious representative.

Patriarch Sfeir is the Head of the Maronite Catholic Church and such is his authority that when he speaks, both Christians and Muslims listen.

Now aged 90, Patriarch Sfeir rarely gives interviews but he made an exception for CNN’s Inside the Middle East.

Here he talks about the issues facing Christians in the Middle East and how all Lebanese must make every effort for peace not war.

Patriarch Sfeir: The current situation of the Christians is tragic, by and large because many of them are leaving, especially those living in Iraq who travel to a much safer environment like the United States, Europe or elsewhere.

This is why they need to be reassured so they can go back to their brothers where they reside and to the governments who rule the lands.

CNN: How can they encourage the Christians to stay in Iraq?

PS: Of course we can’t ask them to stay behind in Iraq where they are at if they are in inevitable danger. Because if they are daily facing the threats of being killed, expulsed and their homes are being demolished and they are living in fear … no one can stay and live in constant threat, and that’s why they are emigrating.

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