OIC urges release of captive Syria bishops

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Updated 29 April 2013

OIC urges release of captive Syria bishops

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation urged on Saturday an “unconditional” release of two bishops kidnapped this week in Syria.
OIC secretary general Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu condemned the kidnapping on Monday of Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Bishop Boulos Yaziji and Syriac Orthodox Bishop Yohanna Ibrahim by armed men as they were en route to the northern city from the Turkish border.
He called in a statement for their “immediate and unconditional release because such act contradicts the principles of true Islam, and the (high) status held for Christian clergymen in Islam.”
The head of the 57-member organization of states said Christian clergy always “lived in dignity and honor in the countries of Islam.”
No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, but sources at the Greek Orthodox Church have said the kidnappers are “Chechen jihadists.”
Christians account for around five percent of Syria’s population. They have become increasingly vulnerable to attack and abductions in the lawlessness that has engulfed much of the country since an uprising against President Bashar Assad erupted two years ago.


Security conference told of ‘Iranian menace’ to shipping in the Gulf

Updated 15 min 47 sec ago

Security conference told of ‘Iranian menace’ to shipping in the Gulf

  • “Aviation and maritime security are at the top of the policy agenda in the region,” says Bahraini FM
  • Pompeo warned of the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program

MANAMA: Delegates from more than 60 countries including Saudi Arabia met in Bahrain on Monday to discuss maritime security after attacks on tankers in the Gulf and Saudi oil installations, widely blamed on Iran.

“Aviation and maritime security are at the top of the policy agenda in the region,” Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa told the conference. “We must take a collective stand ... to take the necessary steps to protect our nations from rogue states.”

In a message to delegates, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned of the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program.

“This meeting comes at a critical moment in history,” he said. “The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery, whether by air or sea, poses a serious threat to international peace and security.

“Together, we must all be committed to taking the necessary actions to stop countries that continue to pursue WMD at great risk to all of us.”

Countries taking part in the conference, including Israel, belong to the Maritime and Aviation Security Working Group, created in February during a Middle East conference in Warsaw.

“The meeting is an occasion to exchange views on how to deal with the Iranian menace and to guarantee freedom of navigation,” Bahrain’s foreign ministry said.

After the tanker attacks, the US formed a naval coalition to protect navigation. Bahrain, which hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, joined in August, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE followed in September. The UK and Australia are the other main Western partners.