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The Prince of Wales meets members of the Iraqi Chaldean Christian Community

9th December 2014

The Prince of Wales greets Archbishop Habib of Basra, Iraq during a visit to Iraqi Christians in London,

The Prince of Wales greets Archbishop Habib of Basra, Iraq during a visit to Iraqi Christians in London,

The Prince of Wales has visited the Iraqi Chaldean Christian community in London today, to hear about their first-hand experiences of persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

Speaking at a Catholic church service in west London, The Prince said that we have a "duty of care" towards the families of those who are being executed on camera by terrorist groups in the Middle East.

"We hear much at present about the 'duty of care'," he said.

"Then, ladies and gentlemen, I am bound to ask whether there is not a duty of care towards the victims of violence and their families who, like you, are daily distraught by the graphic transmission of violent images of their loved ones."

The church service at at the Holy Family Catholic Church in Acton was for Chaldean Christians, a denomination of the Catholic Church that includes many Iraqis and Syrians.

There are approximately 4,000 Iraqi Chaldean Christians in the UK, and numbers have grown since the conflict with Iran in the 1980s.

More recently Christians in Iraq have come under attack from Isis militants who are trying to create a pure Islamic state in the country, and many have been attacked and forced to leave their homes.

The Prince met Chaldean Catholics whose families are suffering because of persecution in Iraq.

Maijida Nissan, 64, has a brother and sister who still live in Iraq. She has lived in the UK for 29 years and has worked as a nanny.

Mrs Nissan thanked The Prince for his work to draw attention to the plight of persecuted Christians, to which he responded with: "It's the least I can do."

She also said she was praying, and he replied: "We all do."

Afterwards she said: "I am very happy that he came here, and thanks to God that he came here. God brings him here."

Mrs Nissan's brother's house in Baghdad has been bombed twice, and he now lives with his family in a church in Erbil.

She said that his daughter, Meena, 11, had asked her to speak to the royal family to tell them about her family's plight.

Another churchgoer, Dr Samad Toma, 37, a clinical scientist, has a sister who was forced to leave her home city of Mosul with her four children when Isis captured the city in June this year.

He said: "There was 20 hours of no connection with them. It was really frightening, but they managed to go to the Kurdish area.

"You lose all your history, you lose your childhood memories, you lose everything. Your connections, even your friends. I have some friends who have been killed just because they refuse to obey Isis rule. You lose your roots.

"I wish one day I might go there, show my children where their father has been raised, where their mother has been raised. Where we used to go to school and where we used to have fun, but everything has now changed.

"Whenever I tell my daughters about Iraq, all they can see is killing. I think they would refuse to go there now, because they would be frightened."

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The Prince of Wales visits the Holy Family Catholic Church in West Acton

Schoolchildren from the Holy Family Catholic Primary School greet The Prince of Wales

Schoolchildren from the Holy Family Catholic Primary School greet The Prince of Wales

In his speech to the congregation The Prince said he felt strongly about the plight of persecuted Christians.

"I have been deeply distressed by the horrific scenes of violence and persecution coming out of your beloved Iraq.

"I know that many of those who have been killed or forced to flee are members of your own families.

"The pain and grief must be quite unimaginable as you see them persecuted because of their faith."

He finished his speech by saying: "You can have no idea how much I feel for those who as I speak are suffering for their faith in such terrible circumstances."

The Prince also met Neville Kyrke-Smith, national director of Aid To The Church In Need, who support persecuted Christians worldwide, telling him: "You're doing a fantastic job."

Last month His Royal Highness released a video message to introduce the charity's report about religious freedom, and in September he made a donation through the charity to support Iraqi Christians.

Archbishop of Basra Habib Jajou had come from Iraq to meet The Prince. He said: "We have to express our thanksgiving to him for the solidarity he has shown for our situation."

A speech by HRH The Prince of Wales at the Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Family, West Acton, London

Published on 9th December 2014

Ladies and gentlemen I just wanted to say what a great delight it is to be with you on this brief occasion, and I know that many of you have come from different parts of the country to be here today and I am so grateful to you for that.

I must say that having heard some of the accounts and stories of unbearable suffering before I came into the church from members of your community, I feel extraordinarily inadequate in trying to express how much I feel for what all of you are forced to go through. Such indescribable agony.  And the fact that I can be here with you just briefly on this occasion is merely a way of trying to show how much we feel for you.

I also must say that it was an enormously special treat to hear the choir singing this morning, but also to hear the Lord's prayer said in Aramaic because  somehow it connects us even more closely with our Lord more than 2000 years ago. And the fact that your community has been in Iraq, practicing for your faith, for all these hundreds of years, and the fact that now that very faith which has been there for so long is under threat of complete removal is beyond all belief. Certainly, as far as I am concerned. 

Ladies and Gentlemen in this season of Advent I particularly wanted you to know, that as Christmas approaches my heart goes out to all Christians who are being persecuted on account of their faith.

As some of you may know, throughout my life I have appealed for greater understanding between people of faith, for greater tolerance and for harmony between the great r ...

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