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Syria sets example for good relations between Christians and Muslims

ICC Note

The relationship between Muslims and Christians in Syria is praised by religious leaders. Syria is also praised for welcoming millions of Iraqi refugees including Christians.

April 28, 2008 Syria (Christian Today)-“Islam cannot be studied like grammar,” Patriarch Ignatius IV of the Greek Orthodox Church in Syria, told a delegation led by Rev Dr Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC).

Dr Kobia visited Syria with a view to learning from the country’s long experience of Christians and Muslims living peacefully together.

Throughout the meetings the delegation had with Christian and Islamic leaders as well as with the Syrian president Dr Bashar al-Assad they heard the same message: better understanding between religions can only be achieved if Christians and Muslims see each other as human beings rather than as representatives of one faith group.

The plight of Iraqi refugees and the observation that many Christians leave the Middle East region for Western countries were the other main themes of the visit.

With 1.5 million refugees from Iraq in Syria , this nation of 20 million has done more than any other state to accommodate those who fled the violence tearing apart its eastern neighbour country. Syria has a history of opening its border to refugees. It has given shelter to half a million Palestinians and during the war in Lebanon , took in some 200,000 Lebanese.

“We do not want Iraq to be emptied of Christians but if they are in danger there, how could we tell them to stay?” asked Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I of the Syrian Orthodox Church, who was born in Iraq .

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