Arab spring a nightmare for Syrian Christians

Now that Syria is in shambles—with an estimated 93,000 dead, 1.5 million refugees, and 4.5 million internally displaced; ancient churches torched, destroyed, or vandalized; Christians targeted for murder and kidnapping and even used as human shields—now the mainstream media is starting to admit that, yes, the rebel forces appear to include quite a few Islamist guerrillas. Now that even chemical warfare has made its appearance, with Carla Del Ponte, a member of the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, confirming that “the chemical weapons are being used by the rebels, not the men faithful to Bashar al Assad”; now that clergy are being kidnapped, with still no word of kidnapped bishops Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazigi and with the beheading of a cleric by Islamist rebels available on YouTube for all to see—now the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has started including some jihadist rebel atrocities in their reports.

Now that women are having to cover up with the abaya, or at least keep a veil handy when they venture out, just in case (something previously inconceivable in Syria), now the press is reporting the establishment of sharia courts which, according to the Washington Post, pass sentences “daily and indiscriminately” on Christians and anyone else who violates precepts of Wahhabi Islam.

Now that the economy has been brought to its knees by the widespread destruction and looting of stores and workshops; now that famine is at hand in the city of Aleppo, and foodstuffs are to be had only at enormous prices; now that the terrorists have reached Homs and Aleppo and the mountains above Damascus—now at last the press seems to have stopped describing the rebels’ fight as a high-minded struggle for “freedom.”

Syrian culture used to be distinctive among the lands of the Middle East for a coexistence between Christians and Muslims which went beyond mere tolerant forbearance, a reality of which Syrians were proud. Under the iron fist of the ruling Alawite dictators, who kept fundamentalists at bay, a good degree of religious freedom was preserved. Christians fleeing persecution in other Middle East countries found refuge in Assad’s Syria, including Iraqi Catholics fleeing post-Saddam persecution. Continue reading


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