Vienna, 24 April 2013 – “I am deeply shocked by the kidnapping of two Syrian bishops and the murder of their driver and condemn these acts in the strongest terms. Attacks of this nature are unacceptable. Religion must never be misused as a justification for violence and for imposing unlawful limitations on the rights and freedoms of other people", Austrian Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said on hearing of the kidnapping of two Christian dignitaries in Syria.
According to the reports the two bishops, Mar Gregoriuos Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulus al-Yazigi, were kidnapped in the area of the Turkish-Syrian border where rebel and government troops are struggling to gain control. Despite reports that the two bishops had been set free, the two men have so far not re-appeared.
"We demand their immediate and unconditional release. We are maintaining close links to all the relevant contact points with the aim of bringing about a swift release. This tragic event is a devastating signal for the Christian minorities in the Middle East. Religiously motivated acts of violence must be stopped and in future we shall use every course of action open to us in order to achieve freedom of religion and the protection of religious minorities in all parts of the world”, the Vice-Chancellor concluded.
Contact:Federal Ministry for European and International AffairsPress Department Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3320Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213 e-mail: abti3(at)bmeia.gv.at