London, Dec 22: Britain's future king on Thursday issued a heart-felt plea against religious persecution, warning against going back to the "dark days of the 1930s," in his special Christmas message. Talking on BBC's 'Thought of the Day' segment, Prince Charles urged respect for those of different faiths or risk repeating the "horrors of the past".
"We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive towards those who adhere to a minority faith. All of this has deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days of the 1930s," the 68-year-old royal said in his pre-recorded message aired on radio.
He added: "I was born in 1948, just after the end of World War II, in which my parents' generation had fought and died in a battle against intolerance, monstrous extremism and an inhuman attempt to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe. That nearly 70 years later we should still be seeing such evil persecution is, to me, beyond all belief. We owe it to those who suffered and died so horribly not to repeat the horrors of the past."
The heir to Britain's throne said he had recently met a Jesuit priest from Syria who described the plight of Christians he was forced to leave behind in the country.
He said: "He told me of mass kidnappings in parts of Syria and Iraq and how he feared that Christians will be driven en masse out of lands described in the Bible. He thought it is quite possible there will be no Christians in Iraq within five years. Clearly, for such people, religious freedom is a daily, stark choice between life and death."
The prince said the scale of religious persecution around the world was "not widely appreciated" and was not limited to Christians, but included many other minority faiths.
"Whichever religious path we follow, the destination is the same - to value and respect the other person, accepting their right to live out their peaceful response to the love of God," he said.