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Syrian Christians Threatened by Salafi Protestors

Washington, D.C. (May 4, 2011) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Christian communities in Syria have been threatened by Salafi protestors in recent weeks. While Christians desire peace, some have been intimidated by Salafis to either join protests demanding the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad or else flee the county. With the mass immigration of Christians from the Middle East, notably from Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories, Salafis have threatened to push Christians out of Syria.

Last week in Duma, a suburb of Damascus, Salafis chanted, “Alawites to the grave and Christians to Beirut!” according to an ICC source and Tayyar.org, a Lebanese news agency. Christians in Syria are concerned that the agenda of many hard-line Islamists in Syria, including the Salafis, is to take over the government and kick Christians out of the country. “If Muslim Salafis gain political influence, they will make sure that there will be no trace of Christianity in Syria,” a Syrian Christian leader told ICC.

In a Christian village outside of Dara’a, in southern Syria, eye witnesses reported that twenty masked men on motorcycles opened fire on a Christian home while shouting malicious remarks against Christians in the street. According to another ICC source in Syria, churches received threatening letters during the Easter holidays telling them to join Salafi protestors or leave.

In Karak, a village near Dara’a, Salafis forced villagers to join anti-government protests and remove photos of President Assad from their homes. Witnesses reported that a young Muslim man who refused to remove a photo was found hanged on his front porch the next morning. 

People want to go out and peacefully ask for certain changes, but Muslim Salafi 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,” said the Syrian Christian leader. “We want to improve life and rights in Syria under this president, but we do not want terrorism. Christians will be first to pay the price of terrorism. What Christians are asking for is the realization that when changes are happening, it should happen not under certain agendas or for certain people, but for the people of Syria in a peaceful way under the current government.”

Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “Unlike in Egypt, where Christians predominantly supported the revolution that removed President Hosni Mubarak from power, Syrian Christians have desired peace while demanding greater freedoms under the current government. Christians anticipate that only chaos and bloodshed will follow if Salafi demands are met. We urge the U.S. government to act wisely and carefully when developing policies that have deep political ramifications for Syria’s minorities by not indirectly supporting a foothold to be used by Salafis to carry out their radical agenda.”


For interviews, contact Aidan Clay, Regional Manager for the Middle East: clay@persecution.org

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  • Rabab Ja

    please dont support those protesters they dont want anything but the distruction to all syria and we christians in syria are being treated in the best possible way by the government like most other syrians.

  • Ba

    I am Syrian and i do feel shame from those how call them selves Anti-Government Protestors while they are Anti-Life terrorists. The problem in the west that they support people how are asking for freedom, without asking what kind of freedom they are asking for, and the answer is that they want the freedom to kill and rape our rights to exist.

    what we have in Syria is not the Islam that we live with, but it is more strict and full of hate we are facing salafists.

    if you don't know how they are

    please search and learn...

    God protect Syria and i am sure he will
    .

  • Ralshimaly

    Please don't support people you don't know anything. You are driving Syria to be another Iraq. These protestors are another version of Taliban. You have committed two wars against them in Iraq and Afganstan ad now you are supporting them in Syria. The majority of the protestors are armed and have been committing crimes against both civilians and the army.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1532304781 Nisreen Ali

    المقالة الاصلية

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Freddy-MacAyed/100002256690245 Freddy MacAyed

    This is a preposterous article - first of all, the name of the president is "Bashar Al-Assad", not "Bashir Assad"; Second of all, it makes no mention who the "Christian leader" referenced is or to what denomination he belongs. The name of the Christian village where the alleged abuses happened is also omitted.

    As far as the Christians of Dar'aa are concerned, they have already made a joint statement supporting the protesters and their demands [1], which is available (in Arabic) below - this is quite understandable as many Christian brothers and sisters have been martyred during the security force raids on Dar'aa, not because someone is forcing them to do so. It is shameful that the ICC gives the accounts of unidentified government spokesmen greater weight than the account of Syrian Christian citizens who in Dar'aa.

    [1] youtube com/watch?v=wDjDL4plQkQ

  • ICC

    Freddy,
    The Christian leader asked to remain anonymous for obvious security reasons which must be respected. There were numerous sources used in the article, all of whom are Syrian Protestant Christians. Obviously, no government spokesman was quoted, but only concerned Syrian Christians. We have corrected the President's name, my apologies.

  • Christine

    Those protesters are only 1% of Syrians. Most of them who got brain washed by Salafis and Muslim Brotherhood movements. They want to retard Syria back to the 15th century. When they saw that Syrians love the president and it was impossible to convince people to go against the government they started terrorizing people and killing security forces and civilians brutally. There is a conspiracy against Syria. A huge one too. Media is fabricating it's news and faking pictures and videos. Some even posted protests that happened outta Syria and claimed it's in Syria. They're targetting Syria's unity and trying to start a civil war. All this under the support of many countries.

  • Christine

    Those protesters are only 1% of Syrians. Most of them who got brain washed by Salafis and Muslim Brotherhood movements. They want to retard Syria back to the 15th century. When they saw that Syrians love the president and it was impossible to convince people to go against the government they started terrorizing people and killing security forces and civilians brutally. There is a conspiracy against Syria. A huge one too. Media is fabricating it's news and faking pictures and videos. Some even posted protests that happened outta Syria and claimed it's in Syria. They're targetting Syria's unity and trying to start a civil war. All this under the support of many countries.

  • Christine

    Thanks for this article. Thanks for showing that Christians support the government. In Syria we have the freedom to practice our religion. The freedom to have churches. Even state holidays during Christian occasions. Christians and Muslims lived as one family in Syria. Celebrating together Eid and Christmas. Religion was never an issue in Syria. Thanks for showing that what's happening in Syria is not a ''freedom movement'' it's a Salafi movement. Some Sheikhs asked for jihad. Jihad against security forces, jihad against any civilian who supports the president. This is the freedom they are asking for. The freedom to kill in the name of religion. I hope the government will show no mercy in dealing with these terrorists. They killed enough Syrians. From every sect. Many innocent people were murdered. The west should stop supporting these terrors just cause they have certain intrests to achieve in the area. They are supporting the Muslim Brotherhoods and calling them ''peaceful protesters.'' While they know they are just terrorists. I dunno how these people sleep at night.

  • Just Syrian

    The chant you mentioned " Alawits to the grave and christians to Beirut" has been mentioned so many times in several websites but there is absolutely no proof of it, and I dare you and I dare all of the commentators to bring a proof for that claim.

    Perhaps not all of the people who are protesting are highly educated but I can assure you that all of them know that the only beneficiary of religious division within the Syrian people is the current regime, and it is very clear to everyone that it has been trying to create that division for a long time.

    Syrians have been living peacefully together (Muslims, Alawites, Christians and all other religions) for 10000 years, therefore, it will not be easy to separate them but if we give this regime another 10 years it might succeed in what it wants and we probably will become another Iraq.

    At last I ask you to verify your resources before publishing such a provoking article, the only enemy to Christians in Syria and to all the Syrian people is this brutal regime which will be falling very soon by the hands of the Syrians united regardless of their religions or ethnic backgrounds.

  • Nadim Nassar, Director

    This article is extremely exaggerated and does not verify most of its resources. I am an Anglican priest from Syria and have a wide network from many denominations across the country. No priest or layperson has ever told me that they were threatened in an attempt to make them leave. They have heard these stories going around as rumours and tasteless jokes because some of them rhyme. Such articles like this hurts the Christians in Syria and puts them in a very difficult position. I ask you to stop writing with this victim mentality because we, as Christians, have never been victims in Syria but rather full players in the life of the society. We are and will always be part of the diverse fabric of the Syrian society and will continue to contribute to the best of our ability to live alongside other religions in peace and harmony.

    The Revd Nadim Nassar

    Director of Awareness Foundation

  • Hala

    What s reported here is not true. This is the syrian governement propaganda to discredit the demand of liberty and democracy by syrians. There is no salafiste in Syria the protestors are pacifists and they refuse any politisation of their revolution . who is killing the Christians and the protestors is the Syrian governement and his milices. Just to remind you that Syria Islamiste movement is historiclay related to brotherhood and soufiste known for maderated positions.

  • Aaakimsan

    It is a lie. Bashar Assad is doing the killing and abuse of people. Demonstrator are very peaceful. They are against discrimination Assad and his mafia is the one who is creating discriminations to hurt the Revolt.

  • Aaakimsan

    You are one of the killers Syrian Regime. No one is going to believe killers lier like you.

  • ICC

    Assad has initiated attacks against and killed peaceful protestors which ICC strongly condemns. The press release merely states that Salafis are also a threat to the Syrian people.

  • Lenanajar

    I'm a syrian atheist and i fear that all religous minorities will face extincion in syria :(

  • Bmb7566

    I am a Syrian Muslim and I can tell you no one likes the Salafis, not even other Muslims!  They are a small minority and they will definitely not be in charge when Assad is gone!  Syrians do not want to get rid of a secular dictatorship only to replace it with a religious dictatorship.  At all the anti-regime meetings, it is made clear that our goal is a secular democracy in which all religious groups are included and fully participate.

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