While many Christians have publicly denounced the brutality of President Assad and by no means support the regime, most Christians see little hope in an alternative government which, they fear, will be led by Islamists who will hinder or outright abolish the religious freedoms long experienced by Christian in Syria.
By Patrick Cockburn
12/17/2012 Syria (The Independent) – Two masked men armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles tried to kidnap a businessman called George Alumeh in the ancient Christian town of Maloula, north-west of Damascus, last week. It was not the first kidnap attempt on richer members of the Christian community here and Mr Alumeh was prepared. He fought back, first drawing a pistol, hurling his car keys away so his car could not be stolen, and then trying to escape. He got away, but was hit by a burst of gunfire from the kidnappers which has sent him to hospital with stomach, leg and hand wounds.
Father Mata Hadad, the priest of the Convent of St Tikla built into the mountain wall that towers over Maloula, tells the story to illustrate how life has become more dangerous for Christians, particularly for those thought to have money. The 10 per cent of the Syrian population who are Christians are debating with trepidation the likely outcome of the Syrian crisis and its effect on them.
The omens are not good. Every country in the Middle East seems to be becoming more Islamic and more sectarian. Syrian Christians have seen since 2003 how an outcome of the invasion of Iraq was the destruction of Christian communities in Iraq that had survived for almost 2,000 years. If the opposition National Coalition, recognised by 130 countries as the legitimate government of Syria, does ultimately take power then its most effective fighting force will be Jadhat al-Nusra, with an ideology similar to al-Qa’ida. It is prospects like this that fill Syrian Christians with alarm.