web analytics
December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Flight of Christians from Mid-East Reaches Syria

Orthodox Christian worshippers

Photo Credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90

A mass exodus of Christians, including a group evacuated from the besieged city of Homs, have been fleeing Syrian cities for safety. Caught in the middle of a showdown between opposition forces and the Syrian army, many Christians fear the prospect of an Islamist-led government if President Bashar al-Assad is deposed.

On July 11, Maximos al-Jamal, a Greek Orthodox priest, negotiated a deal between armed rebels and the army to evacuate 63 Christians caught in the crossfire in the bombed-out city of Homs, the Associated Press reports. Al-Jamal feared that as army attacks intensified, rebels were keeping Christians in the city as bargaining chips As al-Jamal told the Associated Press, “Gunmen have told the besieged people that if you go out of these areas, we will die.”

Before Syria’s uprising began early last year, thousands of Christians lived in Homs. Today, however, according to al-Jamal, only 100 Christian civilians remain, a loss that probably contributed more to rebel attacks against Christians than the army’s bombardment of the city.

“The armed [rebels] in Syria [have] murdered more than 200 Christians in the city of Homs, including entire families with young children,” a priest in Homs told Barnabas Aid magazine. “These gangs kidnapped Christians and demanded high ransoms. In two cases, after the ransoms were paid, the men’s bodies were found.”

The evacuation of Christians from Homs is only the latest occurrence in a mass exodus of Christians from Syrian cities. In June, nearly 10,000 Christians fled Qusayr after being given an ultimatum to leave the city by a rebel commander, Barnabas Aid reported. The threat was apparently echoed in the city mosques: “Christians must leave Qusayr within six days, ending Friday (June 8).” Rebels, however, denied the accusations; they claimed that Christians began fleeing months earlier, when the army shelled the city.

Many Syrian Christians, considered loyal to President Assad, are afraid that rebel groups—widely led by Islamists—will persecute non-Muslims and stifle religious freedoms. Historically, Christians have been granted a higher degree of freedom in Syria than in most other Middle Eastern countries. Despite reports of massive violence initiated by the regime, many Syrian Christians still believe that Assad is their final hope for a peaceful existence.

“Christians are increasingly being targeted and driven out of their homes and districts.” Elizabeth Kendal wrote for the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin. “Some 138,000 Christians have fled Homs, where Christians have been terrorised and churches have been looted and occupied by rebel forces… In areas under rebel control, intolerant, hard-line Sunni fundamentalism is making Muslim-Christian coexistence impossible. For the jihadists, neutrality is not an option, and Christians (and Muslims) refusing to support the jihad are being tortured, expelled and murdered.”

As in EgyptTunisia, and other Arab countries, the uprisings in Syria—which initially called for democratic change and greater freedoms—provided a platform for Islamists, long-suppressed under authoritarian rule, to rally behind a fundamentalist agenda.

“For the newest generation of Sunni jihadists, Syria has become the latest front in the struggle to wrest control of the region from rival religious sects and foreign occupation,” Daniel Brode, Roger Farhat, and Daniel Nisman, intelligence analysts at Max-Security Solutions, wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. “Many of these fighters hail from the vast reaches of North Africa and the Gulf, arriving in Syria with weapons, funds and a radical ideology.”

Asia News, quoting Kuwait’s Arabic-language newspaper, Al-Qabasreported that “jihadists” from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and Pakistan “crossed the Syrian-Turkish border to fight in the jihad alongside [opposition forces]… against the regime of Bashar el Assad.”

Moreover, Agenzia Fides, the official Vatican news agency, reported that, “armed opposition… is gradually radicalizing towards Sunni extremist ideology.” In another report, Agenzia Fides stated that Syria’s Salafis—who follow the strict Wahhabi doctrine of Islam found in Saudi Arabia—are carrying out “brief executions” against Christian “infidels” while initiating a “sectarian war”. These Christians are given a choice to either join the opposition or face “harassment, discrimination, [and] violence.”

As war continues without resolution, there is grave concern that Syrian Christians will follow the path of other ancient Christian communities throughout the Middle East: In Iraq, after the US-led invasion in 2003, more than half the Christian population—caught between Sunni and Shia sectarianism— fled the country. In Egypt, reports indicate that since March 19, 2011, after the political rise of Islamic parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood, at least 93,000 Christians have sought visas to Western countries. The endangered status of Christians in Arab countries is so severe that Ken Blackwell, a human rights expert and board member of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, wrote that “Christians are being ethnically cleansed throughout the Middle East.”

“Look at what happened in Egypt and Iraq,” a Syrian church leader, who asked to remain anonymous told International Christian Concern. “Christians want to peacefully go out and ask for certain changes, but Islamist groups are sneaking in with their goal, which is not to make changes for the betterment of Syria, but to take over the country with their agenda. Christians will be the first to pay if this happens.”

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

About the Author: Aidan Clay is the Middle East Regional Manager for International Christian Concern (ICC), a Washington, DC-based human rights organization that exists to support persecuted Christians worldwide by providing awareness, advocacy, and assistance.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Flight of Christians from Mid-East Reaches Syria”

  1. Rc Fowler says:

    I've been saying and writing for months–Assad is moderate in comparison to what will come if and when he is deposed–Assad has every right to violently put down the uprisings!

    The uprisings are not about peace and freedom–but rather the opposite–if and when Assad is gone the Syrian people will suffer far more under the Muslim Brotherhood–and so will Israel!

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Sydney has banned the  Chabad menorah from being lit this year because of the murders in the Lindt cafe.
Sydney Darkens Hanukkah by Banning Chabad Menorah Lighting
Latest Indepth Stories

No one would deny that the program subjected detainees to less than pleasant treatment, but the salient point is, for what purpose?

For the past six years President Obama has consistently deplored all Palestinian efforts to end-run negotiations in search of a UN-imposed agreement on Israel.

Joseph Berger 
(Photo: James Estrin)

It’s not an admiration. It is simply a kind of journalist fascination. It stands out, it’s different from more traditional Orthodoxy.

For Am Yisrael, the sun’s movements are subservient to the purpose of our existence.

Israelis now know Arab terrorism isn’t caused by Israeli occupation but by ending Israeli occupation

Anti-Semitism is a social toxin that destroys the things that people most cherish and enjoy.

Amb. Cooper highlighted the impact of the Chanukah/Maccabee spirit on America’s Founding Fathers

Zealousness has its place and time in Judaism; Thank G-d for heroic actions of the Maccabees!

Israel and the strengthening of the Jewish people in faith and numbers has brought a growing light

“Can you hear what the dead are whispering? Leave Galut, escape to Eretz Israel-Lech lecha!”

3 main messages emerged from this conference: Communications, Community, and Collaboration.

In his short time with the shul, he has managed to activate a Hebrew school with now over 50 children and five teachers.

Recent headlines show escalation of the same attitudes and actions as existed during the Holocaust

The Mid-East conflict is a unidirectional campaign of Arabs murdering Jews, not the inverse.

More Articles from Aidan Clay
Orthodox Christian worshippers

A mass exodus of Christians, including a group evacuated from the besieged city of Homs, have been fleeing Syrian cities for safety. Caught in the middle of a showdown between opposition forces and the Syrian army, many Christians fear the prospect of an Islamist-led government if President Bashar al-Assad is deposed.

Inscription on Coptic church in Cairo

Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority fears that the restoration of parliament, which will grant greater powers to Islamists, will be used to institute Sharia law and stifle religious freedom.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/flight-of-christians-from-mid-east-reaches-syria/2012/07/24/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: