Prince Charles: rising intolerance risks repeat of horrors of past


December 22, 2016

LONDON – The Prince of Wales has warned that the rise of populist extremism and intolerance towards other faiths risks repeating the “horrors” of the Holocaust.

December 22, 2016

LONDON – The Prince of Wales has warned that the rise of populist extremism and intolerance towards other faiths risks repeating the “horrors” of the Holocaust.

Britain’s Prince Charles, and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, tour the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall during their visit to Washington, Wednesday, March 18, 2015.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s religious Thought for the Day slot, the prince delivered an outspoken attack against religious hatred and pleaded for a welcoming attitude to those fleeing persecution.

He said: “We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive to those who adhere to a minority faith. All of this has deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days of the 1930s.

“My parents’ generation fought and died in a battle against intolerance, monstrous extremism and inhuman attempts to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe.”

The prince did not mention any politicians by name, but his address will be seen by some as a veiled reference to the election of Donald Trump in the US, the rise of the far right in Europe, and increasingly hostile attitudes to refugees in the UK.

“That nearly 70 years later we should still be seeing such evil persecution is to me beyond all belief,” he said. “We owe it to those who suffered and died so horribly not to repeat the horrors of the past.”

Prince Charles said religious hatred was on the increase, leading to a rise in refugees fleeing persecution.

“According to the United Nations, 5.8 million more people abandoned their homes in 2015 than the year before, bringing the annual total to a staggering 65.3 million. That is almost equivalent to the entire population of the United Kingdom,” he said.

“The suffering doesn’t end when they arrive seeking refuge in a foreign land.”

The prince urged listeners this Christmas to remember “how the story of the Nativity unfolds with the fleeing of the holy family to escape violent persecution”.

He added: “We might also remember that when the prophet Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Medina, he did so because he too was seeking the freedom for himself and his followers to worship.”

The prince recalled meeting a Jesuit priest from Syria. “He told me of mass kidnappings in parts of Syria and Iraq, and how he feared that Christians would be driven en masse out of lands described in the Bible,” he said. “He thought it quite possible there would be no Christians in Iraq within five years.”

He continued: “The scale of religious persecution around the world is not widely appreciated. Nor is it limited to Christians in the troubled regions of the Middle East.” He then cited a recent report that found an increase in attacks on minority faiths.

The Labour MEP Claude Moraes, chair of the European parliament’s civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, welcomed the prince’s intervention.

He said it was “obvious” which politicians the prince was referring to, “but for protocol reasons he can’t say”. Moraes told the Guardian: “It was a good intervention I think when the right and rightwing UK newspapers dominate the anti-refugee, intolerance, and anti-EU protectionist narrative.”

The prince was invited to speak as part of BBC Radio 4’s religious programming. It was the third time the heir to the throne had given the address. He first broadcast in the Thought for the Day slot on the anniversary of VE Day in 1995, and did so again in January 2000 to mark the new millennium.

He pre-recorded his message on Monday at his official London home, Clarence House, before it was announced that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh had delayed plans to travel to Norfolk for Christmas, because of illness. The prince did not mention the health of his parents.

Courtesy: The Guardian