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ICC Note:
The fate of Syria’s Christian community provides a barometer for the direction the country will take. The movement that began as a protest of the authoritarian rule of President Bashar al-Assad has now been infiltrated and in some instances co-opted by terrorist groups who wish to crush individual rights and freedoms. The situation is complex for western states to navigate, but it should be careful to not arm those who are enemies of their fundamental values and rights. The result of this conflict for Christians has been tragic with hundreds of thousands displaced, living under threat of violence and kidnapping, and with few options for protection.
By Kamal Dib
8/05/2013 Syria (Ottawa Citizen) – After years of fighting terrorism as undemocratic and as demeaning to women and to human dignity, it is shocking that western democracies are intent on bringing millions of free-spirited and liberal Syrian citizens under the same yoke of the same terrorist groups that the West ought to combat in the first place.
The plight of Syria’s 1.5 million Christians is being pushed aside in the interest of maintaining the focus on the regional war that is currently engulfing Syria.
Like their co-religionists in Iraq and Lebanon, the Christians of Syria see the current crisis as a recipe for their disintegration and disappearance. They have watched what happened in Iraq since 2003, where in a few years the number of Iraqi Christians, who have lived in Mesopotamia for two millennia, has dropped from 1.3 million to less than 400,000.
Christians in Syria are now struggling for survival; their ancestral homeland in central and northern Syria has become an arena of a destructive war. In Homs, Aleppo, Idlib, Hama, and not excluding Damascus and dozens of Christian villages everywhere, hundreds of thousands of Christians are fleeing, leaving behind homes, businesses, jobs, schools, and neighbourhoods.
The Syrian war that dominates the airwaves and news headlines is depicted as a regional and international conflict, but the ancient Christian communities of Syria and the Middle East are shown as bystanders or a mere collateral damage that could be ignored. We remind readers that 1,400 years ago, Syria and Lebanon were almost 100 per cent Christian.
Arab and Western media outlets present the war in Syria as one about democracy and freedom, but ignore the threats against Christians and minorities. Such threats are no mere talk, as they contain the seeds of a sectarian positioning of what started as a civilian uprising into a divisive civil war.
The plight of the Christian minority is significantly bloody. In the fall of 2011 and winter of 2012, 80,000 Christians were displaced from Homs, the third- largest city in Syria.

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