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Syria's Christians rally behind Hizbollah

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  • Rev Fr John Brian
    Friday August 4, 11:03 PM Syria s Christians rally behind Hizbollah By Khaled Yacoub Oweis DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Seventy-seven-year-old Mona Muzaber lights a
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 4, 2006
      Friday August 4, 11:03 PM
      Syria's Christians rally behind Hizbollah
      By Khaled Yacoub Oweis

      DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Seventy-seven-year-old Mona Muzaber lights a candle for
      Hizbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah at the Orthodox Church of the Cross
      in the centre of Damascus.

      "I love him. I never felt Nasrallah was a religious zealot. He is a patriot
      who doesn't seek personal gain," she said. "I light a candle daily for him
      to remain under God's protection."

      Israel's offensive against Lebanon has brought Christians in neighbouring
      Syria closer to Nasrallah, a Shi'ite Muslim, reviving Arab nationalist
      feelings and blurring sectarian divisions.

      Bishops and priests say Syria's Christians, a devout community of around
      three million out of a population of 18 million, identify strongly with
      Nasrallah's battle with Israel, which has occupied Syria's Golan Heights
      since 1967.

      "Pray for the resistance, pray for Hassan Nasrallah. He is defending
      justice," Father Elias Zahlawi told the congregation at special mass held at
      the Lady of Damascus, a Catholic church.

      Across Damascus Christians, like Muslims, sit glued to Nasrallah's al-Manar
      television, receptive to his portrayal of the war as one in defence of all
      Arabs, as well as Muslims.

      At the biblical-era Straight Street, Khaldoun Uzrai hung the yellow flags of
      Hizbollah all over his liquor and grocery shop.

      "We are Arabs at the end of the day. Nasrallah is one of our own. He is
      realising our dreams," Uzrai said.

      At least 720 people have been killed in Lebanon and 750,000 have been
      displaced by the conflict ignited by a cross-border raid in which Hizbollah
      seized two Israeli soldiers. Seventy-two Israelis have been killed, many by
      Hizbollah rockets.


      Iyad Elias, a doctor working at a hospital in the mixed Jaramana district,
      wishes Hizbollah could unleash more rockets on the Jewish state.

      "Nasrallah transcends religion and ethnicity. Unfortunately he does not have
      the firepower Israel has," he said.

      Jaramana has been a main receiving centre for thousands of Lebanese
      refugees, mostly Shi'ite from the south. They have been housed in schools,
      mosques, monasteries and private homes.

      Thabet Salem, a leading political commentator, said Nasrallah brought out
      nationalist feelings which have been dormant for years as Israel dealt the
      Arabs a series of defeats.

      "Nasrallah extols the Muslim nation, but he is also seen as a symbol of a
      national liberation movement. No wonder Christians feel such affinity to
      him," Salem said.

      A leading Christian businessman called Nasrallah "the uncrowned Arab king".

      "Unlike most Arab rulers, Nasrallah is not an agent. After all he sacrificed
      his son," the businessman said, referring to Hadi Nasrallah, who was killed
      at 18 fighting occupying Israeli forces in south Lebanon.

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