The former chief rabbi is 'appalled' at the international community's indifference to the plight of Christians

The British former chief rabbi Lord Sacks has said the “ethnic cleansing” of Christians around the world has been shamefully ignored.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Lord Sacks said: “The ethnic cleansing of Christians throughout the Middle East is one of the crimes against humanity of our time, and I am appalled that there has been little serious international protest.”

Lord Sacks, who has been awarded the 2016 Templeton Prize for his writing on religious extremism, noted that Christians face persecution in 50 countries

Referring to last week’s bombing in Pakistan, he wrote: “The suicide bombings in Lahore are part of a pattern in which Christians have been terrorised across an ever widening swathe of countries across the world.

“To be sure, the attack was not on a Christian site but a park open to people of all faiths. But the bombers chose to attack at Easter, knowing that many victims would be Christians on their way to or from prayer.”

But Lord Sacks said the terrorists’ “real target is not Christianity but freedom.” He argued that ISIS aims, not just to re-establish the Caliphate, but to “to silence anyone and anything that threatens to express a different truth, another faith, a different approach to religious difference”.

He added: “The calculation of the terrorists is that, in the long run, the West will prove too tired to defend its own freedoms. They are prepared to keep committing atrocities for as long as it takes, decades if need be.”

Last month Lord Sacks said that, in protecting Western societies, “if religion is not part of the solution it will assuredly be a large part of the problem as voices become ever more strident, and religious extremists ever more violent”.

He said that Islamist terrorism represented “not faith but sacrilege” and called for people of faith, including Muslims, “to express their active opposition to terror in the name of God”.