Vienna, 22 April 2014 Press release

Kurz: "Christian minorities are victims of the conflict in Syria"

Religion must never be used as a justification for violence

Vienna, 22 April 2014 – "We are deeply worried by the lack of news about the two Syrian bishops Mar Gregoriuos Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulus al-Yazigi who were kidnapped one year ago. The fate of the two bishops makes us aware once again how easily religious affiliation can be misused", Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said in reference to the kidnapping of two Christian dignitaries in Syria one year ago today.  

According to reports, bishops Mar Gregoriuos Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulus al-Yazigi were kidnapped in an area fought over by rebels and government troops along the border between Syria and Turkey precisely one year ago and so far there has been no sign of life from them. More than 150,000 people have lost their lives in the unrest in Syria, many of them clergymen. Between five and ten percent of the Syrian people are Christians. They are particularly hard hit by the violence and kidnappings of the past months and years. The protection of minorities and the fight for their rights is one of the priorities of Austrian foreign policy. 

"We hope to receive news about the two bishops soon and hope to learn that they are well. We continue to demand their immediate and unconditional release", Kurz concluded.

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