“Islam is the solution,” is on the lips of Islamist rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Syria’s Christians fear increasing threats and attacks from jihadists who are joining the Free Syrian Army and other rebel groups.
8/14/2012 Syria (CathNews) – The moment she saw the rosary on my bed, the chambermaid of my hotel in Aleppo smiled ecstatically. She was an Eastern (Greek) Orthodox who could claim to trace her roots back to the time of St Paul. Christianity flourished as long in Syria as it did in Iraq and thrived particularly well during the Alawite rule of the Assads since Hafez Assad’s Baathist coup in 1970, writes Trevor Mostyn in The Tablet..
But now Christians make up only 10 per cent of the population of Syria, and they are hemorrhaging from the region under the pressure of militant Islam. The peaceful protests that first began 16 months ago as Syrians demanded regime change have been overtaken by the spread of jihadist groups following President Bashar al-Assad’s violent clamp down against peaceful protests.
The mantra “Islam is the solution”, on the lips of so many in the region today, has exacerbated the flight of Christians.
Despite heroic stories of the protection given by members of Syria’s Sunni majority to Christian shopkeepers, Christian refugees are fleeing into northern Lebanon as fast as Iraq’s three million refugees are pouring from Syria back into Iraq. Indeed, one of the reasons that Russia has refused to abandon President Assad is its feeling of responsibility for Syria’s Orthodox Christian community.