20 January 2018
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  • » 06/15/2015, 00.00

    SYRIA

    Maaloula, a new statue of the Virgin unveiled



    The new statue replaces one destroyed by the rebels in 2013. A sign of a return to normality after the destruction, killings, abductions of religious sisters nuns. At least 30% of the Syrian Christians have fled abroad or are displaced in some areas of Syria.

    Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A new statue of the Virgin Mary was inaugurated two days ago on the mountain overlooking Maaloula, an ancient Christian town, to replace the one destroyed by anti-Assad rebels in 2013.

    The installation of the statue was celebrated by many Christian families who are present there, as well as religious leaders, including national flags and a large portrait of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    Maaloula, 55 km north of Damascus, with about 4,000 inhabitants and a large Christian majority, is well-known because there are monasteries and churches dating back to the first centuries of Christianity and is a part of the country where people still speak Aramaic, the language used in the time of Jesus Christ.

    In late 2013, the anti-Assad rebels, jihadists of the Nousra Front, occupied the town, destroying churches, icons and killing some Christians. At the end of the year, the rebels also kidnapped some nuns and girls guests of the convent.  They freed the group after months in exchange for dozens of prisoners in Syrian jails. In April 2014, the Syrian army recaptured the city. In the some archaeological jewels were destroyed such as the monastery of Mar Sarkis, which includes the churches of St. Sergius and Bacchus.

    The inauguratiuon of the statue of the Virgin aims to signal a return to normal in Maaloula.

    The Christians of Syria constitute 10% of the population, an estimated 22 million people. Because of the war that has lasted more than four years, at least 30% of Christians has taken refuge in neighboring countries (Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey) or are internally displaced.

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    See also

    02/12/2013 SYRIA
    Maaloula: Islamist rebels abduct 12 nuns from the St Thecla Orthodox monastery
    The sisters were abducted this afternoon when a group of armed men stormed the monastery. For Vatican nuncio Mgr Mario Zenari and the Greek Orthodox Church, the rebels have taken the nuns to Yabrud, a city 80 km from Damascus.

    04/12/2013 SYRIA
    Maaloula sisters in Yabrud, Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate reports
    The nuns are said to be in good condition. At present, it remains unclear why Islamist insurgents took them or when they will be released. In the now deserted town, Islamists have started torching all Christian-owned homes.

    11/09/2013 SYRIA
    Maaloula: Christians say announcement of withdrawal by Islamic rebels is false
    A spokesman for the Free Syrian Army claim its forces evacuated the town in order to avoid bloodshed. Sources tell AsiaNews deny the report, saying terrorists are still entrenched in the town. With many residents are still holed up in their homes, Islamists are not letting anyone escape. In Damascus, hundreds of people attend the funerals of three young Catholics from Maaloula killed by Islamists.

    16/09/2013 SYRIA
    Maaloula refugees celebrate the Exaltation of the Cross, pray for their martyrs
    "The small town conquered by the rebels is now deserted," sources told AsiaNews. In the capital, refugees organised celebrations-Mass, Eucharistic adoration and vigils-in lieu of traditional processions and bonfires. "The event was dedicated to our martyrs and the suffering of Syria," a Maaloula Christian said.

    27/09/2013 SYRIA
    Maaloula Christians say town Muslims took part in attack
    "Christians and Muslims had always lived in an atmosphere of mutual trust; the attack on Maaloula has created a lot of distress." Islamists have invaded homes and continue to threaten the village, site of ongoing clashes between rebels and the army. The families who fled to Damascus and Beirut tell their story. The goal is to drive out Christians in order to eliminate Christianity.



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    EGYPT – LEBANON
    Muslims and Christians meet in Cairo for Jerusalem, 'the cause of causes'

    Fady Noun

    A conference was held on 16-17 January at al-Azhar. Many prominent figures from Lebanon took part, including the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi. The Arab world is divided between "complicit passivity" and "noisy but ineffective speeches". For a former Lebanese premier, coordinated actions are needed to ensure greater efficacy on behalf of Jerusalem’s "pluralistic identity " and "religious freedom". Card Al-Rahi called for joint prayers, Islamic-Christian interfaith solidarity in the Arab world, and support for the Palestinians.


    CHINA
    Yunnan: Christians accused of membership in an apocalyptic sect get up to 13 years in prison



    The Three Grades of Servants cult, an underground pseudo-Protestant sect founded in Henan, is especially strong in the countryside. Those convicted claim they are just ordinary Christians and know nothing about the sect. Defense lawyers have been threatened with loss of their license to practice.


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