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17373Syria At Threshold Of Religious War

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    Jan 12, 2013
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      http://www.albanytribune.com/10012013-syria-at-threshold-of-religious-war/

      Syria At Threshold Of Religious War

      Written by VOR

      January 10, 2013

      By Konstantin Garibov and Alexey Lyakhov

      A report recently published by international Christian human rights
      organization “Open Doors” says that at present, Syria is one of the most
      dangerous countries in the world for Christians to live in. The report
      says that many Christians in Syria have become victims of violence and
      that many Christian churches and monasteries in the country have been
      ruined.

      The “Open Doors” organization publishes reports about violence against
      Christians in various parts of the world every year. In the last year’s
      report, Syria was in the 36th place on the list of countries where
      Christians are persecuted. Now, it is in the 11th place.

      The organization’s activists have collected information about many
      Christians who have been killed, kidnapped, or experienced physical
      violence in those regions of Syria that are now controlled by the
      opposition, which, to a large extent, consists of Islamists. Many
      Christian churches and monasteries in Syria have been desecrated,
      damaged or totally ruined.

      “The appearance of this report is a very important fact,” Russian expert
      in Eastern affairs Boris Dolgov said in an interview with the Voice of
      Russia. “I hope that this document helps the world to learn more about
      violence against Christians in Syria and to start to seek measures to
      stop this violence.”

      Recently, Mr. Dolgov visited Syria and met with representatives of
      several Christian communities there – in particular, with Mother
      Agnes-Marian de la Croix, the prioress of St. Jacques Roman Catholic
      Monastery.

      “I had a long talk with Mother Agnes-Mariam,” Boris Dolgov says. “She is
      very concerned that Christians in Syria are now persecuted by rebels.
      She knows of many cases when Islamists shelled Christian monasteries,
      kidnapped or killed Christian priests and expelled Christians from
      cities which are now controlled by the opposition – for example, from
      Homs. She showed photographs to me, where the consequences of these
      crimes were depicted.”

      “Mother Agnes-Mariam says that many members of the Syrian opposition
      belong to Al Qaeda and other radical Islamist organizations.”

      The report of the “Open Doors” organization says that if radical
      Islamists come to power in Syria, they may start to persecute Christians
      only because Christians are peace-loving and do not interfere in the
      conflict between the opposition and the government. This may either make
      Syrian Christians a very isolated community or make many of them flee
      from Syria.

      Boris Dolgov agrees with this:

      “If the most radical, Islamist part of the Syrian opposition comes to
      power, this would be a tragedy not only for Syria, but also for the
      entire Middle East,” he says. “Most likely, they would start killing
      Christians, Alawites, Kurds and representatives of other religious and
      national minorities.”

      Alawites are a Muslim sect, whose beliefs on some points differ from
      those of Islamists. President Bashar Assad and his family are Alawites,
      and Alawites currently dominate in the Syrian government and occupy high
      military posts in the country. As for Syrian Kurds, they, as a rule,
      support President Assad or take no sides in the conflict between his
      regime and the opposition.

      Recently, the Russian Orthodox Church also expressed concern about
      persecutions of Christians in Syria. The head of the Russian Church
      Patriarch Kirill believes that the conflict in Syria is, to a large
      extent, caused by ethnic and religious reasons. His Holiness says that
      the Russian Orthodox Church is ready to render humanitarian aid to
      Syrian Christians who have lost their houses or suffered in some other
      way from Islamists.