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Justin Welby says Christians in the Middle East face 'imminent extinction'
Christians who were the foundation of the universal Church now face the threat of "imminent extinction", the Archbishop of Canterbury has warned.
In a letter written in The Sunday Telegraph, the most Rev Justin Welby reflected on how long Christians have lived in the Middle East.
Sharing a story, he said: "About 15 years ago I sat in the home of an elderly Palestinian Christian man in Galilee, on a hillside where Jesus himself may have walked.
"Foolishly, I asked, 'How long has your family been Christian?'
"The man - who was as vibrant as someone half his age - gave me a look and replied, 'Since about the time of Saint Paul, I should imagine'."
Christians have been in the Middle East for nearly 2,000 years.
Yet, the persecution against Christians in the region led to a Christian leader commenting that the Christians of the region are "facing the worst situation since the Mongol invasions of the 13th Century", Archbishop Justin said.
The head of the Church of England said that it is important for Christians in the Middle East to know "they are not forgotten by the world, or treated as an irrelevant minority, a societal optional extra, or even a threat".
On Tuesday a service will take place at Westminster Abbey, in which The Prince of Wales will help lead celebrations and prayer for Christians in the region.
It is also hoped the event will raise Middle Eastern Christian's profile, while highlighting their plight.
Archbishop Justin called on the Government to take on more refugees.
The Home Office has admitted that not a single Christian was among the 1,112 Syrian refugees resettled in the UK in the first three months of this year.
The four Christians out of 1,358 Syrian refugees recommended by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), for resettlement in the UK were rejected. Only Muslim refugees from the war-torn country were granted permission to resettle.
The information came to light following a freedom of information request by the Barnabas Fund - a charity that supports persecuted Christians.
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