The Prince of Wales has warned that the rise of populist extremism and intolerance towards other faiths risks repeating the “horrors” of the Holocaust.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s religious Thought for the Day slot, the prince delivered an outspoken attack against religious hatred and pleaded for a welcoming attitude to those fleeing persecution.
He said: “We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive to those who adhere to a minority faith. All of this has deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days of the 1930s.
“My parents’ generation fought and died in a battle against intolerance, monstrous extremism and inhuman attempts to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe.”
The prince did not mention any politicians by name, but his address will be seen by some as a veiled reference to the election of Donald Trump in the US, the rise of the far right in Europe, and increasingly hostile attitudes to refugees in the UK.
“That nearly 70 years later we should still be seeing such evil persecution is to me beyond all belief,” he said. “We owe it to those who suffered and died so horribly not to repeat the horrors of the past.”
Prince Charles said religious hatred was on the increase, leading to a rise in refugees fleeing persecution.
“According to the United Nations, 5.8 million more people abandoned their homes in 2015 than the year before, bringing the annual total to a staggering 65.3 million. That is almost equivalent to the entire population of the United Kingdom,” he said.
“The suffering doesn’t end when they arrive seeking refuge in a foreign land.”
The prince urged listeners this Christmas to remember “how the story of the Nativity unfolds with the fleeing of the holy family to escape violent persecution”.
He added: “We might also remember that when the prophet Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Medina, he did so because he too was seeking the freedom for himself and his followers to worship.”