(AsiaNews) -"It is too early to speak about religious hatred against Christians
in Syria. In a year of conflict, Muslim extremists have not yet attacked a
church," sources in Syria told AsiaNews
in order to correct reports about anti-Christian attacks that have recently
appeared in Western media.
attack against Fr George Louis, parish priest at St Michael Greek Catholic
Church in Qara and the expulsion of Christian families from the village of Al
Borj Al Qastal are very serious, but they are the result of a climate of war,
violence and lawlessness," the sources explained. "Relations between Christians
and Muslims are one of the few positive aspects in such an atmosphere of brutal
11 May, armed men attacked Fr George Louis at his home in Qara in order to
extort money from him. They knocked him unconscious to stop him from sounding
the alarm. Only hours later was he able to call a member of his parish for
the same day, Free Syrian Army militias took over the homes of ten Christian families
in al-Borj al-Qastal forcing them to leave. It is not clear whether the
families were expelled outright or left of their own accord.
similar occurred in Homs in late March. Western media reported the expulsion of
more than 50,000 Christians from the city held by Muslim rebels, but local
Jesuits denied the claim, saying instead that the families voluntarily left to
escape the violence.
Italian and international newspapers describe recent events as anti-Christian
persecution," the sources said. "However, they do not take into account that
outside of the capital and a few other cities, Syria has turned into a no man's
land, with unscrupulous criminals attacking anyone who is without defence. Most
of the people, whether Christian or Muslim have been at the mercy of these
gangs for all this time. Syrian troops and police do not intervene to avoid
violent reactions that more radical groups could exploit."
one year of conflict, Syrian Christians have rarely been attacked in a
persecutory way by Islamists like in Iraq and Egypt, this despite the presence
of domestic and foreign Muslim extremists.
real sectarian fight is between Alawis and Sunnis, sources said, as recent
events in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, show.
checkpoints, both rebels and regular soldiers treat minority Christians with
respect. The Assad regime has made of religious tolerance a pillar of its
power; persecuting Christians would discredit it. This is true for the rebels as
well because they want Western backing."
a year of civil war, no church has yet been targeted by Muslim extremists or by
have only uttered verbal threats against minorities because of their support
for the regime. However, many Christians have expressed support for the rebel
point of view. Many of them took part in anti-Assad demonstrations last year.
now, shelling and clashes between regular army troops and rebels have damaged places
of worship, not targeted attacks.
such a climate of chaos and violence, anyone could attack a monastery, convent,
church or men or women religious without fear of reprisal.
situation is worse in Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, and even in Jordan, where anti-Christian
feelings just lurk below the surface, well rooted in society, oftentimes
stirred by government institutions." (S.C.)