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ICC Note: While the Syria conflict may have started with noble motives of increasing the rights and freedoms of all Syrians against a repressive regime. The past two and half years have given no indication that if Assad were to fall from power that the opposition would be able to protect the rights and freedoms of minorities. The indications are that Islamic extremists have significant influence in the opposition group and they have intentionally targeted Christians and seem bent on removing them entirely from Syria.
9/11/2013 Syria (Al-Monitor) – Syrian Christians as a whole have not thrown their support behind either side in the Syrian war. Nevertheless, Christians in Syria have been subjected to a lot of pressure by both the regime and the opposition, which failed to give them (or any religious or ethnic Syrian component) any assurances or support.
Some armed groups have accused the church of supporting the regime. And many of the opposition’s statements and video clips do not reassure minorities that they will be participants in the new Syria.
The political opposition: failure without borders
In the revolution’s first months, Christians did join the protests in various towns and villages. One day of protests was even called “Good Friday.” In several areas, the churches opened their doors to displaced persons and those affected by the war, as in Daraa, Aleppo and Hama. But when the revolution was militarized and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was formed, Christians started fearing for their future role in light of the growing Islamist trend in the various armed opposition battalions.
Matters became worse after some oppositionists in the field accused the regime of supporting the Christians, citing celebrations in al-Kassa’a and Bab Touma in Damascus. Christians’ fears were reinforced after bombings, shelling and clashes broke out at churches in Damascus and other sites such as Irbeen in the Damascus countryside, Homs and Deir ez-Zor.
In addition to all that, the political opposition has failed miserably to reassure the Christians and has neglected to address many worrisome events. Father Fadi Haddad was killed in Katana, in the Damascus countryside. Bishops Boulos al-Yazigi and Youhanna Ibrahim were kidnapped in Aleppo. Father Paolo Dall’Oglio disappeared in Raqqa. Clashes recently reached Maaloula in the Qalamun. And there was news about attacks on churches and monasteries in Ras al-Ain.
When the two bishops were kidnapped, the Syrian National Coalition and Syrian National Council (SNC) accused extremist armed groups of kidnapping and possibly killing them. Then both groups backpedaled and said that the regime was behind the crime, to scare the Christians into supporting it. The opposition did not promote a discourse emphasizing loyalty to the homeland over religion. It took no concrete steps to prevent a repeat of what happened to the churches in Iraq and the subsequent waves of Christian migration.
The National Coalition and the opposition abroad thought that placing a Christian figure in a leading position would reassure the minorities, so George Sabra was elected to head the SNC. They also promoted Michel Kilo, who made great efforts to showcase the role of Christian activists in the revolution. Kilo asserted that the Christian street disagrees with the church’s position. Activist Ghassan Saltana made the same claim.
But on the ground, nothing changed. The opposition simply kept repeating that the only guarantee for the minorities is to participate in the revolution. Some activists have tended not to blame the National Coalition, and the political opposition in general, because its popularity on the ground is almost nonexistent and thus its positions mean nothing. Neither the bishops’ kidnappers nor the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) responded to the opposition’s calls, assuming they even recognize it.

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