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Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, Syrian Archbishop Of Aleppo Says Religion Can Play Positive Role (VIDEO)

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  • jonbrian chorus.net
    *Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, Syrian Archbishop Of Aleppo Says Religion Can Play Positive Role (VIDEO)* Posted: 10/25/2012 3:43 pm EDT Updated: 10/25/2012
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 31, 2012
      *Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, Syrian Archbishop Of Aleppo Says Religion
      Can Play Positive Role (VIDEO)*

      Posted: 10/25/2012 3:43 pm EDT Updated: 10/25/2012 7:02 pm EDT

      NEW YORK -- Saying that his people are "suffering day and night" and don't
      see "any light at the end of this tunnel," the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop
      of Aleppo, Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, visited The Huffington Post on
      Thursday to offer his take on solutions to the ongoing violence in his

      Ibrahim, who leads Orthodox Christians in the Syria's largest city, has
      been visiting the U.S. and other nations to appeal for humanitarian aid and
      international diplomacy in hopes of stopping the civil unrest in Syria,
      where Christians make up about 10 percent of the 22 million majority-Muslim

      The conflict in Syria, which has led to tens of thousands of deaths, arose
      after a government crackdown on democratic demonstrations that began last
      year during the Arab Spring. The fight is mainly between the regime's army,
      led by President Bashar Assad, and those who want to overthrow it, the Free
      Syrian Army. The government is dominated by Alawites, a Shiite sect, while
      the opposition is controlled by Sunnis. Caught between are the nation's
      Christians, who the government has said will not be supported under the

      "The main important thing is that Syria cannot remain as it is now because
      it is an important country in the Middle East and if no solution comes to
      Syria, it might bring a very sad event for the whole region. My mission and
      my plea will be the importance of having a concrete, comprehensive plan for
      the future," said Ibrahim in a meeting with HuffPost Religion. "What we
      need is security, stability, prosperity, peace, fraternity. This is what we
      need because we come from different religions and all the teachings of
      these religions are pushing us to do something for the benefit of human

      On Thursday, rebels took control of key areas in Aleppo, a battleground
      city near Turkey that has a significant Christian population, and the
      Syrian government agreed to a four-day ceasefire in observance of the
      Islamic holiday of Eid Al-Adha. Two days before, the Vatican announced that
      it had delayed a peacemaking group's trip to the region. The group, which
      was to include Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan, has not been

      "We have to be sure this is accepted by all the parties, not only the
      government," Ibrahim said about the ceasefire, which is supposed to begin
      Friday, though it's unclear if either side will abide. "Yesterday, (rebels)
      occupied the complex where I have a school. It means they are not far from
      the city center."

      While strife between religious groups is taking place, the archbishop
      stressed that he believes most Syrians believe in peace between religions
      and freedom of religion. Violence and suppression of religious freedom are
      "not the teachings of religion, it is the interpretation of religion which
      sometimes comes from fanatics, closed minds or ignorance,� he said. �And we
      have it. We have to acknowledge, from both sides, that we have those who
      cannot really see what are the depths of religion concerning peace and

      "If you take the Quran, take the Gospel, you will not see something that
      says to do something against the others. It's all for peace and tranquility
      of the human beings," he added.

      But Ibrahim said he is praying that his city does not continue to fall to
      the rebel forces.

      "Aleppo is the second most important city in Syria....If you go out of
      Aleppo, it is occupied by the Free Syrian Army. This is something that has
      to do with the whole future of the district. Now, they are planning to
      capture the citizens, which is important. Now, after that, everything will
      be collapsed," he said. "You will not find the government, you will not
      find anything there, and (rebels) will go in and control it. That will
      bring many sad things for the future."

      When the conflict ends, the archbishop said he believes one of the most
      important points of agreements between different sides will need to be over
      preserving the nation's religious diversity.

      "The energy, the goodwill, the efforts of the all the Syrians coming from
      different backgrounds will help very much to rebuild Syria...Syria is not
      Iraq, is not Egypt, is not Libya. Those who are against any future are very
      tiny, a very small number," he said. "The coming constitution should
      mention all the rights of the religions. It should contain an opportunity
      to act in a positive way for all of society. And remember, we are a very
      religious society...I think religion can play a very positive way in the
      future of Syria."

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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