Appeal for prayer as Middle East faces uncertain future

In a statement, the WEA said it was “deeply saddened” by the loss of life in the last few weeks of protests.

An estimated 1,000 people have died in violence in Libya as opponents continue to battle forces loyal to leader Col Muammar Gaddafi.

The embattled leader is under increasing pressure to quit. Prime Minister David Cameron said there was no place for Gaddafi in Libya's future.

"All of this sends a clear message to this regime: it is time for Colonel Gaddafi to go and to go now.

"There is no future for Libya that includes him".

The government has frozen the assets of Gaddafi and his family, while Foreign Minister William Hague said yesterday that their diplomatic immunity had been revoked.

EU High Representative Catherine Ashton also said yesterday that the EU would implement sanctions against Libya “as a matter of urgency”.

The WEA urged leaders in the region not to resort to violence.

It said: “The WEA is deeply saddened by the loss of life in the region as a whole and pleads with all those who exercise power over others not to abuse that power and not to take one more life.

“Young, educated, information-aware populations all over the region are demonstrating that injustices and corruption, with resultant poverty among so many ordinary people, cannot continue unchecked.”

Protests have broken out elsewhere in the region since Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was toppled two weeks ago.

In Yemen, the leader of the opposition Islah Party has called on President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down as anti-government demonstrations gather pace.

There are concerns for the wellbeing of thousands of opponents have been protesting daily outside the main university after President Saleh warned yesterday that he would use the army to “thwart any conspiracies”.

The WEA asked people to encourage leaders in the region, old and new, to respect the human rights of all people.

“There should not be any second-class citizens anywhere – because each individual is carefully created by God and therefore very valuable in his sight.”

The WEA went on to appeal to leaders to uphold religious freedom, saying that Christians in the region wanted to build a better future along with other citizens.

“Every nation in the region counts the followers of Jesus among their peoples – together they are deeply committed to the welfare of their nations and are eager to play their full part in shaping their countries’ future health,” it said.

“WEA further calls on leaders to place freedom of religion and belief at the centre of their political agendas.

“This freedom is a litmus test of the health of a society."

It added: “The future is very uncertain but contains potential for great good.”