The leader of the Orthodox Church has warned of the danger of a clash between the Christian and Muslim world after the war on Iraq. Patriarch Bartholomew, 63, who is the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians around the world told the BBC in Istanbul: "There is a danger ... Muslims in the Middle East would say that Christians came from the west and killed our children, our wives and our people, innocent people, so we have to fight now against them. This is a real danger." The Patriarch called for the United Nations to be given an important role in finding a permanent solution to the crisis. Patriarch Bartholomew has been the spiritual leader of the Orthodox Church since 1991 and constantly spoken out against the war on Iraq. On many occasions he has appealed for closer dialogue and understanding between the faiths.