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Syria - the lies being told

Syria - the lies being told

By Elizabeth Kendal
Evangelicals Now
September 2012

Without a doubt, the greatest lie being told about the Syrian conflict is that it is being waged by President Assad against 'the Syrian people'.

This is pure propaganda. in December 2011, just three months into the crisis, the Qatar Foundation conducted a major poll inside Syria to assess the level of support for Assad.....the results revealed that 55% of Syrians supported President Assad and 68% of Syrians disapproved of the Arab League sanctions. So the main division in Syria is not between Assad and the rest, but between Sunni Islamists and the majority of Syrians.....

Western governments are supporting the Islamists. What started out as a non-sectarian protest movement was quickly hijacked by sectarian Sunnis. Demanding regime change and Sunni rule, they rejected all talk of reform and refused to negotiate. The chaos in Syria presented all those interested in countering ascendant Iran with a golden opportunity to take a massive bite out of the strategic Shi-ite crescent. The Syrian conflict evolved into a regional proxy war. The US, NATO and Turkey have allied with Sunni Arab Saudi Arabia and Qatar to pursue regime change in Syria believing it to be the best way to isolate and wound their grand nemesis: Iran.

The West has long known that the Syrian opposition was being inflitrated by international jihadists....... In April 2011 the Melkite Patriarch of Antioch and all the East warned that fundamentalist Muslims were calling for Jihad, Christian villages were being attacked and churches receiving threatening letters. ..... Who will stop international Islamists from establishing little emirates in towns they control, where sharia will be enforced and from where Christians will be forced to flee? The battle for Aleppo is critical. It is home to swaths of loyalist Sunni Arab and Kurdish business elite as well as some 250,000 Christians. Jihadists will doubtless attempt to infiltrate Christian districts, not only to kill Christians but to draw the regime's return fire into those districts. Great for propaganda.

Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate www.elizabethkendal.blogspot.com.au


Syria's Crumbling Pluralism

By Kapil Komireddi,
Excerpted from the New York Times
August 3, 2012


"Syria's pluralistic society, which once rose above sectarian identity in a region often characterized by a homicidal assertion of religious belief, is now faced with civil disintegration and ethnic cleansing."

"A churchgoing Syrian told me that he used to see himself primarily as 'Syrian' and that religious identity, in political terms, was an idea that never occurred to him - until an opposition gang attacked his family earlier this year in Homs. 'It's a label they pinned on us,' he said. 'If their revolution is for everyone, as they keep insisting it is, why are Christians being targeted? It is because what they are waging is not a struggle for freedom, and it's certainly not for everyone.'"

"The seeming indifference of the international community to the worsening condition of Syria's religious minorities - and the near total absence of censure of the opposition forces by the Western governments arrayed against Assad - is breeding a bitter anti-Americanism among many secular Syrians who see the United States aligning itself with Saudi Arabia, the fount of Wahhabism, against the Arab world's most resolutely secular state."

"A year and a half after the insurrection began, Assad's forces are exhausted and dispirited - but there is no sign yet of a simultaneous mass uprising in any of the major cities. Instead, rebel fighters on Saudi payroll launch coordinated attacks on high-value targets, the Syrian Army retaliates with disproportionate force, and videos of the ensuing devastation are posted on the Internet."

"Washington is aware of the scale of the problem. As early as June 2011, Robert Stephen Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria, briefed his counterparts in Damascus about Al Qaeda's penetration of the opposition forces. By still ploughing ahead with its support for Saudi Arabia's effort to destabilize Syria, Washington, far from assisting Israel or weakening Iran, is helping to fuel a humanitarian crisis that will come back to haunt the United States."


Persecution In Syria
"How Do You Want To Die..?"

The streets are most dangerous after 3:00 p.m. - that is, unless it's a Friday, when few Syrian Christians dare to step outside their homes at all.

In many Syrian towns, lawlessness has become the norm. When government forces aren't present, Muslims have been known to rob churches and kidnap, rape, or even kill Christian women. Innocent bystanders simply making trips to the store have been gunned down. Curfews have done little to make anyone feel safer or less fearful, so the Christian community simply bands together...and prays.

Hundreds of these Christian residents have watched their lives - and their very freedoms - slip away right before their eyes. Homs, a city which has been occupied by both government and rebel forces for weeks, is now alone the site of more than 1,500 violent deaths.

As the Arab Spring continues to rage throughout Syria, thousands more people have lost their lives in a movement that seeks to strip President Bashar al-Assad's regime of its power. And as Islamic protesters clash with government forces, Christians have become hopelessly tangled in the crossfire. The most recent fighting has left over 50 Christians dead. One victim, a young Christian boy, was killed by rebels who filmed the murder and then blamed the act on government soldiers. Another victim, a Christian man, was taken captive by rebels before being cruelly asked by them, "How do you want to die?" The man suffered a complete breakdown before he was eventually released.

But the ever-present fear of persecution and violence is only part of the problem for Syria's Christians...

History - The State of Christian Persecution in Syria

Many in the Christian community, which comprises approximately 6 percent of Syria's population (1.5 million, including Christian refugees from Iraq), have fallen into severe financial hardship since the Arab Spring uprising, primarily because they are too afraid to leave their homes to go to work. Because of the violence, a shortage of basic supplies such as gas, electricity, and many supermarket products has contributed even further to the desperate situation.

Although the Syrian church has historically enjoyed peace and religious freedom under the Assad regime, the Arab Spring has destabilized that peace, as Christians are now typically perceived as supporters of the existing government. With help from fellow Muslims in Saudi Arabia, many Islamic fundamentalists are taking advantage of the opportunity to pursue their agenda in Syria, which has significantly increased the persecution of Christians.

Faced with the threat of a full scale civil war and intervention by the international community - factors which may bring about even greater persecution - many Christians are preparing to leave Syria altogether. This possibility could create a crisis similar to the exodus in Iraq, where thousands of Christians have fled intense persecution for safer regions, leaving the Iraqi church practically nonexistent.


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