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ICC Note:
Christians and Muslims used to peacefully coexist in Syria. Unfortunately, the last two years of civil war have erased this peaceful coexistence, leading Christianity to face an “existential threat” in Syria. According to reports, over 300 Christians have been killed during the civil war, even though they did not participate in hostilities. Christian leaders, including priest and monks have been targeted by extremists and hundreds of thousands of Christians have fled the country seeking safety as a refugee outside Syria’s borders. Please pray for these persecuted people.
8/21/2013 Syria (The WIP) – Syrians used to be proud of the peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims. They no longer are. Under the harsh rule of the Alawite dictators, some religious freedom was preserved. Christians fleeing other conflicts in the Middle East found refuge and made their home in Syria. Today, Christians in Syria are targeted by both government and rebel forces. Their salvation is fleeing the country to Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.
Christians account for approximately 10 percent of Syria’s 22 million people. According to Emanuel Aydin, a bishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church, Christians are in the middle of tensions between Alawites, Shiites and Sunni Muslims. Many have had to convert in order to survive. According to bishop Aydin, 500,000 Syrian Christians have fled the war to Lebanon, Eastern Europe, and the Scandinavian countries. Those that remain are caught in the crossfire between the rebels and the government.
It is estimated that more than 300 Christians have been killed during the war, although they did not participate in the hostilities. Several have also been kidnapped. Among them are two bishops, the Syrian Orthodox bishop of Aleppo, Youhanna Ibrahim and the Greek Orthodox bishop of Metropolitan Aleppo and Iskenderum, Boulos al-Yaziji. They were kidnapped after their driver was shot to death. The whereabouts of the bishops is still unknown.
In addition to those cases, last June, the Rev. Francois Murad, a Franciscan priest, was beheaded by jihadists after fighters from the rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra attacked the monastery where he was staying in Edlib, a Sunni northwestern city with a small Christian population. After the beheading, a video was posted online with details of the brutal incident. Although they have been accused by the rebels of supporting the government, the majority of Syria’s Christian community has carefully avoided taking sides.
Members of the clergy are not the only target of the rebels, however. There have been reports that a cluster of Christian villages located along Syria’s Orontes River have been almost totally destroyed, forcing thousands of civilians into hiding. Some women have to cover themselves up with the abaya, a robe-like dress used by Muslim women.
Among the voices for peace in that conflicted region is Mother Agnes-Mariam de la Croix, the superior of a convent near Qara, located 50 miles from Damascus. In June 2012 she was warned that she was targeted for kidnapping, after she revealed that about 80,000 Christians had been “cleared out” from their homes in Homs by the rebels and forced to flee the country.
As she declared to The Australian, only one in about 20 rebel fighters is Syrian. The rest come from countries ranging from Britain to Pakistan, from Chechnya to Indonesia and from Albania to North Africa. Many of these rebels fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and now are part of the groups fighting the government.
Although no religious community has been spared persecution, only the Christians in Syria face an “existential threat,” according to a report by the UN Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry in Syria.

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