Syrian Christians look to Russia for support

A group of Syrian Christians — claimed to number 50,000 — have asked for dual Russian citizenship, saying they are “scared of the conspiracy of the West and hateful fanatics who are waging a brutal war against our country”.

Their action was reported by the Russian news agency Interfax, which also carried a Russian Orthodox statement that it “vividly indicates Russia’s high authority in the Middle East, especially among the Christian minorities living there”.

“It is for the first time since the Nativity of Christ that we Christians of Qalamoun living in the villages of Saidnaya, Maara Saidnaya, Maaloula and Maaroun are under threat of banishment from our land,” said a letter from the residents to the Russian leadership and the Russian Orthodox Church.

“We prefer death to exile and life in refugee camps, and so we will defend our land, honour and faith, and will not leave the land on which Christ walked.

“The Christians of Qalamoun believe that the purpose of the Western-backed terrorists is to eliminate our presence in what is our native land, and with some of the most revolting methods as well, including savage murders of ordinary people,” they added.

“We see the Russian Federation as a powerful factor of global peace and stability. Russia pursues a firm line in the defense of Syria, its people and its territorial integrity.”

The letter adds: “None of the about 50,000 people — physicians, engineers, lawyers, entrepreneurs — who are willing to sign this application want to leave their homes. We possess all that we need, we are not asking for money.”

Archpriest Nikolay Balashov, an official of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church, said the granting of citizenship was “hardly possible from a judicial standpoint”.

He said he believed the residents’ action was guided by the intention to stress that “the Christians of the East have known for centuries that no other country would take care of their interests better than Russia”.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Melkite Catholic Church, Patriarch Gregorios III Laham, has said more than 450,000 Christians have fled during Syria’s civil war, out of a total Christian population of about 1.75 million.





Image: Beliefnet

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