08/15/2020 Syria (International Christian Concern) – On July 30, members of Failaq Al-Sham, an Islamist group loyal to Turkey, allegedly arrested Kurdish Christian Radwan Muhammad on accusations of apostasy. The group ordered Muhammad, an English teacher and headmaster, to turn over his school so they could repurpose it as an Islamic educational institution. Muhammad refused, saying, “I will hand you the building in one case only: if Jesus Christ comes down to earth again.”
Failaq Al-Sham holds ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and functions under the Syrian National Army, which is an umbrella group for different Islamic factions directly influenced by Turkey. Before arresting him, Failaq Al-Sham also prevented Muhammad and his family from properly burying his wife, a Christian convert who recently passed away.
Pastor Nihad Hassan, leader of a Kurdish church in Lebanon and originally from Syria, told Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW): “We are extremely worried about Radwan’s life and wellbeing, he is being held at [Failaq Al-Sham’s] Headquarters in Afrin and they may execute him. Those Islamist groups and their Turkish masters are walking in the footsteps of IS. In fact, many of their fighters are former IS and al Qaeda members.”
This detainment of Radwan Muhammad is extremely concerning not only for the state of Syria but also considering the involvement of Turkey. Turkey has been continually cited for human rights and religious freedom violations. This latest development shows how this problem continues within the Syrian context.
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