One of the victims of rebels is a young Christian who was murdered in front of a camera. Later enemies of al-Asad popularized the film on internet, accusing the governmental party of the murder

The streets of Syria become the most dangerous after 3 pm. In control points, where one can meet uniformed soldiers, paradoxically it is difficult to feel safe. It is just the place where there are often attacks, beatings, and even kidnappings of the Syrian people.

There much skepticism in the international arena. There are doubts whether the Syrian government will turn out effective in its call for stopping the violence. Archbishop Louis Rafael Sako, the head of the Chaldean Church in Iran, visiting Poland last year, appealed among the others in 'Niedziela': 'Do not leave us to the mercy of fate. Let the Western armies stay here as long as possible'. His requests are getting more significant today, when the fate of many Arabian countries is at stake. It there is intervention in Syria, America will not decide to make land operation, which will be painful for the Christians the most. So, it would be good to repeat the history lesson of Iraq.

Despair and anxiety

Non-governmental organizations and Catholic association, acting in Syria, are against the decision of Barack Obama. They also clearly support the Pope Francis calling for a dialogue. The decision of the American president about a necessity of the military attack on this country in bloodshed was also sceptically taken by Father Victor Assound. The superior of the Jesuites working in the Middle East pointed out to the fact that the world had not taken any lesson from the attack on Iraq. - If we are trying to solve this conflict only by force, destroying one another, we will provoke much more violence and fanaticism – emphasized father Assound. He reminded that what is happening in Syria, is dangerous for the whole globe.

The situation of the Christians and other religious minorities in Syria is getting worse, especially after the retreat of the Syrian armies – informs a priest maintaining anonymous. - One can come across armed civilians nearly everywhere, who are dangerous for the Christians and women the most. Many Christians do not leave their homes.

Analysts generally agree with the thesis about the extremely complex situation in Syria. The phenomenon concerns also many other Arabian countries, in which there have been fights in the last years. On the one hand, usually in such situations, we deal with rebels, but on the other hand, with the governmental party. Unfortunately, such a situation is in Syria, there are many political parties on the side of people who would like to overturn the regime of the president, so there is lack of a strong opposition. This situation blurs the perspective of drawing conclusions and consequences for the abuses and builds a solid ground for potential using the chaos, for example, in order to kidnap the Christians, with whom Muslim groups are not friends. As the organisation 'open Doors, dealing with Christians persecutions, informs, for many Christians the situation is alarming. The Sunnis are addressing worrying signals to them at any occasion. - This land belongs to us – they declare.

They are attacking the weaker ones

Recently, one of pastors in the Homes city has been accused of armed militias that he had intended to report to the governmental party about the members of their structure. Luckily, he managed to escape from the city on time, and the furious fanatics destroyed only the system of cameras protecting a church. Now the believers of the protestant Church have pastoral help from another pastor.

Whereas a real massacre of the Christians took place at August night. An armed man opened a fire to celebrating Christians. 11 people were killed including one woman and children. The assassin was firing blindly. The case happened in Syria, on a road between two Christian villages: Ein-al-Ajouz and Nasrah. Some of the victims are refugees from Homs. Rebels, also in this case, considered believers of Christ as allies of the president Baszar al-Asada.

Rebels from the Free Army of Syria attacked and destroyed Greek Orthodox Church of St. Sergiusz and Bachus in the Al-Thawrah city in the Northern-Central part of the country. - They tore the Bible and other holy books, broke crosses , Christ and Saints' icon, destroyed equipment. They stole electrical devices, chandeliers and lamps. They took everything, what they could and later they sold them. Nothing happened there – reported one of the Christians, who had escaped from the city. He said that despite the escape, believers of Christ are still receiving threats from attackers. Recently somebody has called him and said that if he dared to return, 'they would kill him and his head will be placed on the mosque', so that everybody would see what could be done.

The reason for the main danger for the Christians is the Islamic extremism. As reliable sources inform, the situation of the Christians in Syria was relatively good. It can be even said that believers of Christ were tolerated by the Muslims, and even, in the social sense, they had a chance for assimilation. Unfortunately, the situation got worsened and was caused by the inflow of foreign mercenaries, who first attacked the Christians in relation to accusing them of supporting the governmental party or not engaging in the conflict, and now, there are also religious reasons. The Christians started paying the price for the fact that the worship Jesus Christ,not Mahomed. The balance of the war is tragical: many Christians were killed or kidnapped, there are many beatings, destruction of sacral buildings. As a result, there are also mass migrations. As it is estimated, tens of thousand Christians have left for neighbouring countries, where – also for the religious structure – they are also facing a difficult situation.

A sign of hope

The Christian community in Syria is about 6 per cent of the whole population 9about 1.5 million people). In this group there are also the Christian refugees from Iraq. Besides the violence which is generally a threat to them, there are also economic difficulties. The Christian community, to a greater extent than the Muslims, must struggle with unemployment and the lack of education. This situation also results from the lack of travelling possibility. The tragic situation is also caused by the deficit of gas, electricity and things essential for life.

Facing the dangers of the international intervention, which can cause more persecutions, many Christians are preparing for leaving Syria completely. It can cause a crisis similar to the exodus in Iraq, where because of intensive persecutions thousands of the Christians escaped to safer regions, leaving Iraq. The Church practically does not exist there.

In a big desperation ‘Syrian Christian’, a portal dealing with the situation of the Christians in Syria, is calling for a prayer today: - Please, pray for the existing situation. The fanatics are taking benefits from the situation and it is going to be worse. Syria needs more prayer.

Pope Francis joins the prayers. The voice of the bishop of Rome rises powerfully in order to condemn the life with weapon, and ‘with particular firmness’ – the usage of chemical weapon. – I still have an image of the last days engraved in my thoughts and heart – said pope Francis before the Angelus prayer and on 1 September. Soon he said significant words, on which those who are responsible for nations are obliged to think. – There is God’s Judgment, and also the history judgment of our actions, from which it is impossible to run away! The whole speech of the Pope was devoted to the international situation, the scene on which, there have constantly been lots of conflicts for a long time, and which has been marked with the worsening Syrian tragedy in the recent weeks. So, in this context, which is very worrying, and unpredictable, pope Francis repeats that it is necessary to reject the culture of conflicts, especially that what builds among nations, is the ‘culture of a meeting, a culture of a dialogue; it is the only road to peace’, which the Holy See shows and for whose sake its diplomacy is undertaking actions with the help of many possible means.

On the feast eve of the Birth of Blessed Mary the Virgin on 7 September, believers all over the world undertook fasting and prayer for peace in Syria and in the whole Middle East. Pope Francis had appealed for it. ‘I re-encourage you – he wrote in a special appeal – and the whole Church to reflect on this day intensively. Now I would like to express my gratitude to my Christian brothers of other religions and also people of good will who would like to join this event in places and ways suitable for them. (…) Let the call for peace sound loudly on the whole Earth!’.


"Niedziela" 38/2013

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl