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ICC Note:
The recent murder of a Fransiscan Friar inside of a convent is another example of the dire state of Syria.   The once-thriving Christian community has been decimated by the last two years of civil war.  The radical elements that have infiltrated both sides of the conflict are a cause of extreme concern, and “Syria’s ancient Christian minority has cause to believe that it confronts an ‘existential threat.’”  Western governments need to reexamine the basis of conflict and not be hasty in their declarations.
By Nina Shea
07/01/2013 Syria (National Review) –On June 23, Catholic Syrian priest Fr. François Murad was murdered in Idlib by rebel militias.  How he was killed is not yet known and his superiors “vigorously deny” that he was a victim of beheading, as some news sources are claiming.  It is apparent, however, that he was a victim of the shadow war against Christians that is being fought by jihadists alongside the larger Syrian conflict.  This is a religious cleansing that has been all but ignored by our policymakers, as they strengthen support for the rebellion.

As I testified to Congress last week at a hearing on Syria’s minorities chaired by Rep. Chris Smith (R., N.J.): “Though no religious community has been spared egregious suffering, Syria’s ancient Christian minority has cause to believe that it confronts an ‘existential threat.’”
In fact, this was a finding last December of the U.N. Human Right Council’s Commission of Inquiry on Syria. As in Iraq, Syria’s two-million-strong Christian community, the largest next to Egypt’s Copts in the entire region, is being devastated. Targeted by jihadist militias, they are steadily fleeing Syria, and whether they will be able to return to their ancient homeland is doubtful.
Archbishop Jeanbart of Aleppo’s Melkite Greek Catholic Church explained:
“Christians are terrified by the Islamist militias and fear that in the event of their victory they would no longer be able to practice their religion and that they would be forced to leave the country. As soon as they reached the city [of Aleppo], Islamist guerrillas, almost all of them from abroad, took over the mosques. Every Friday, an imam launches their messages of hate, calling on the population to kill anyone who does not practice the religion of the Prophet Muhammad. They use the courts to level charges of blasphemy. Who is contrary to their way of thinking pays with his life.”
Fr. Murad was only the most recent cleric to be targeted by these militias. The highest profile attack was the kidnapping by gunmen in April of Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim. This sent an unmistakable signal to all Christians: none is protected.

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