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Palestinian archbishop to boycott DC conference in protest of American policies

April 9, 2017 6:18 P.M. (Updated: April 9, 2017 6:18 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Sabastiya Archbishop Atallah Hanna, of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, said he would boycott an upcoming conference in the United States aiming to discuss the situation of Christians in the Middle East, over what he called “misguided” American policies in the region.

Hanna, the only Orthodox Palestinian archbishop, who is renowned for his high profile political activism against the Israeli occupation, said in a statement Saturday that he and a number of Christian leaders from the region were invited to the conference, scheduled to be held in mid-May.

"We won't partake in this conference and we urge all Christian leaders in the Arab world who have been invited to boycott this suspicious conference," Hanna said, without specifying what the conference was called. The archbishop could not confirm to Ma’an whether or not it was the same event held annually in Washington DC by the non profit “In Defense of Christians.”

The Palestinian archbishop explained that he called for the boycott in protest of the US’s “misguided” policies in the Middle East, particularly those related to the question of Palestine. 

"These misguided American policies in the Middle East are a major reason behind the mass exodus of Christians from the region that has occurred over the years," said Hanna, adding that US officials should “stop siding with Israel and assaulting the Arab people before they invite us to a conference about Christians in the Middle East in their capital.”

Hanna accused the United States trying to cover up crimes committed in the Arab world by holding the conference, which he stressed was yet another move by the US government to show that it cares about Middle Eastern Christians -- "when in fact, it doesn't.”

"Who created the terrorist groups and who is providing them with money and arms? Who has been destroying Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya? Who caused the displacement of the Palestinian people? All catastrophes that Palestinians have suffered and are still suffering from were abetted by American and Western governments."

Referring to recent airstrikes in Syria ordered by the US president Donald Trump, Hanna said that "American aggression in Syria on Thursday is clear evidence that the current US administration adopts aggressive policies against our people and our region, just as previous US administrations have." 
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