Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
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ICC Note: Christians in predominantly Muslim societies are often regarded as foreigners rather than fellow citizens. They have often been associated, often incorrectly, as proponents of American culture or policies, and are seen by Islamists as surrogates and targets. The decline of American influence since 2009 has fueled the perception that attacks and American targets and surrogates – minority Christian communities – will go unpunished. This perception is usually accurate, and further contributes to the escalation of violence against Christians, which may clearly be seen in the smoke and ashes of the Syrian War. However, in the midst of this despair, an image of Christ rises on a lonely hillside with the express purpose of giving hope to the beleaguered Christians in a tiny village. Only this statue is able to be placed not from the exercise of American influence but from a deliberate exercise of Russian power. The Russians are advancing a diplomatic and security agenda which prioritizes protecting Christians in the historical homes, doing the job the America and Western Europe seem to have abandoned.
11/2/2013 SYRIA (Detroit Free Press) – In the midst of a conflict rife with sectarianism, a giant bronze statue of Jesus has gone up on a Syrian mountain, apparently under cover of a truce among three factions in the country’s civil war.
Jesus stands, arms outstretched, on the Cherubim mountain, overlooking a route pilgrims took from Constantinople to Jerusalem in ancient times. The statue is 40 feet tall and stands on a base that brings its height to 105 feet, organizers of the project estimate.
That the statue made it to Syria and went up without incident Oct. 14 is remarkable. The project took eight years and was set back by the civil war that followed the March 2011 uprising against President Bashar Assad.
Christians and other minorities are targets in the conflict, and the statue’s safety is not guaranteed. It stands among villages where some fighters, linked to al-Qaida, have little sympathy for Christians.
So why put up a giant statue of Jesus in the midst of such setbacks and so much danger?
Because “Jesus would have done it,” organizer Samir al-Ghadban quoted a Christian church leader as telling him.
The backers’ success in overcoming the obstacles shows the complexity of civil war, where sometimes — despite the atrocities — warring parties can reach short-term truces.
Al-Ghadban said that the main armed groups in the area — Syrian government forces, rebels and the local militias of Sednaya, the Christian town near the statue site — halted fire while organizers set up the statue, without providing further details.
Rebels and government forces occasionally agree to cease-fires to allow the movement of goods. They typically do not admit to having truces because that would tacitly acknowledge their enemies.
It took three days to raise the statue. Photos provided by organizers show it being hauled in two pieces by farm tractors, then lifted into place by a crane. Smaller statues of Adam and Eve stand nearby.
The project, called “I Have Come to Save the World,” is run by the London-based St. Paul and St. George Foundation, which al-Ghadban directs. It was previously named the Gavrilov Foundation, after a Russian businessman, Yuri Gavrilov.