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Syria’s Christians Risk Eradication

U.S. policy towards Syria is bafflingly inconsistent. If U.S. leaders are so concerned about regimes slaughtering thousands of their own people, did they notice what just happened in Egypt? If they are so exercised over about weapons of mass destruction, are they aware that Israel has two hundred nuclear warheads, with delivery systems? Will American warships in the region be making those other stops on their liberating mission?

Most puzzling of all, though, is why the United States seems so determined to eradicate Christianity in one of its oldest heartlands, at such an agonizingly sensitive historical moment.

Syria has always been a complex place religiously. Although the country has a substantial Sunni Muslim majority, it also has large minority communities—Christians, Alawites, and others—who together make up over a quarter of the population. Those communities have survived very successfully in Syria for centuries, but the present revolution is a threat to their continued existence.

Sadly, Westerners tend to assume that Arabs are, necessarily, Muslims, and moreover, that Muslims are a homogeneous bunch. Actually, 10 percent of Syrians are Alawites, members of a notionally Islamic sect that actually draws heavily from Christian and even Gnostic roots: they even celebrate Christmas. Locally, they were long known as Nusayris, “Little Christians.” Syria is also home to several hundred thousand Druze, who are even further removed from Sunni orthodoxy.

And then there are the Christians. If Christianity began in Galilee and Judea, it very soon made its cultural and intellectual home in Syria. St. Paul famously visited Damascus, and for centuries Antioch was one of the world’s greatest Christian centers. (The city today stands just over the Turkish border.) A sizable Christian population flourished under Islamic rule, and continued under the Ottomans. Muslim and Christian populations always interacted closely here. A shrine in Damascus’s Great Mosque claims to be the location of John the Baptist’s head.

Christian numbers fluctuated dramatically over time. A hundred years ago, “Syria,” broadly defined, was home to a large and diverse Christian population, including Catholics, Orthodox, and Maronites. In the 1920s, the French arbitrarily carved out the country’s most Christian sections and designated that region “Lebanon,” with its capital at Beirut.

In theory, that partition should have drawn a clear line between Christian Lebanon and non-Christian Syria. But Syria itself was changing in the aftermath of the catastrophic events of the First World War. The year 1915 marked the beginning of the horrendous genocide of perhaps 1.5 million Armenians, as well as hundreds of thousands of Assyrians, Maronites, and other Christian groups. After the war, Christians increasingly concentrated in Syria, where they benefited from French protection.

Arab Christians, though, were anything but imperial puppets. Determined to avoid a repetition of the horrors of 1915, Christians struggled to create a new political order in which they could play a full role. This meant advocating fervent Arab nationalism, a thoroughly secular order in which Christians and other minorities could avoid being overwhelmed by the juggernaut power of Sunni Islam. All Arab peoples, regardless of faith, would join in a shared passion for secular modernity and pan-Arab patriotism, in stark contrast to reactionary Islamism. The pioneering theorist of modern Arab nationalism was Damascus-born Orthodox Christian Constantine Zureiq. Another Orthodox son of Damascus was Michel Aflaq, co-founder of the Ba’ath (Renaissance) Party that played such a pivotal role in the modern history of both Iraq and Syria.

Since the 1960s, Syria has been a Ba’athist state, which in practice has meant the hegemony of the religious minorities who dominate the country’s military and intelligence apparatus. Hafez al-Assad (President from 1971 through 2000) was of course an Alawite, but by the 1990s, five of his seven closest advisers were Christian. His son Bashar is the current president, and America’s nemesis in the region.

Quite apart from their political influence, Christians have done very well indeed in modern Syria. Although they try to avoid drawing too much attention, it is no secret that Aleppo (for instance) has a highly active Christian population. Christian numbers have even grown significantly since the 1990s, as Iraqis fled the growing chaos in that country. Officially, Christians today make up around 10 percent of Syria’s people, but that is a serious underestimate, as it omits so many refugees, not to mention thinly disguised crypto-believers. A plausible Christian figure is at least 15 percent, or three million people.

To describe the Ba’athist state’s tolerance is not, of course, to justify its brutality, or its involvement in state-sanctioned crime and international terrorism. But for all that, it has sustained a genuine refuge for religious minorities, of a kind that has been snuffed out elsewhere in the region. Although many Syrian Christians favor democratic reforms, they know all too well that a successful revolution would almost certainly put in place a rigidly Islamist or Salafist regime that would abruptly end the era of tolerant diversity. Already, Christians have suffered terrible persecution in rebel-controlled areas, with countless reports of murder, rape, and extortion.

Under its new Sunni rulers, minorities would likely face a fate like that in neighboring Iraq, where the Christian share of population fell from 8 percent in the 1980s to perhaps 1 percent today. In Iraq, though, persecuted believers had a place to which they could escape, namely Syria. Where would Syrian refugees go?

A month ago, that question was moot, as the Assad government was gaining the upper hand over the rebels. At worst, it seemed, the regime could hold on to a rump state in Syria’s west, a refuge for Alawites, Christians, and others. And then came the alleged gas attack, and the overheated U.S. response.

So here is the nightmare. If the U.S., France, and some miscellaneous allies strike at the regime, they could conceivably so weaken it that it would collapse. Out of the ruins would emerge a radically anti-Western regime, which would kill or expel several million Christians and Alawites. This would be a political, religious, and humanitarian catastrophe unparalleled since the Armenian genocide almost exactly a century ago.

Around the world, scholars and intellectual leaders are debating how to commemorate the approaching centennial of that cataclysm in 2015. Through its utter lack of historical awareness, the United States government may be pushing towards not a commemoration of the genocide but a faithful re-enactment.

Even at this late moment, can they yet be brought to see reason?

Philip Jenkins is Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor University and serves as Co-Director for the Program on Historical Studies of Religion in the Institute for Studies of Religion.

41 Comments (Open | Close)

41 Comments To "Syria’s Christians Risk Eradication"

#1 Comment By Max Planck On September 4, 2013 @ 8:42 am

Odd how the author blames U.S. policy for what’s happening to Christians in Syria, but whizzed right by what happened to Christians in Iraq thanks to “U.S. policy.” It is true that most Americans ignorantly think that all nations of the region are Muslim. They are also equally ignorant to the fact that these aren’t even “nations” in the way we Americans imagine one. Loyalty is more often given to clan, not flag, and that one factoid explains a LOT of problems in Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, the Palestinian territories, as well as Syria. Western concepts of nationhood don’t apply too often here.

#2 Comment By SteveM On September 4, 2013 @ 9:09 am

Narcissist-in-Chief Barack Obama is totally oblivious to unintended consequences.

Too bad…

#3 Comment By The Wet One On September 4, 2013 @ 10:56 am

Hmmmm.

Same manure, different day.

Humans. Gotta love ’em!

#4 Comment By peterc On September 4, 2013 @ 11:14 am

The “utter lack of historical awareness of the US Government” is so depressing.
Several years ago, National Geographic had an article about Syria.
While the author mentioned the police state, he also emphasized the strong protection
provided by the same state to religious minorities. A unique situation in that area.
The history of the Middle East predicts that replacing Assad – a member of a minority (Allawite)
with a representative of the majority – a Sunni – would eliminate such protection.
Why don’t we see that behind all the terrorist acts are a certain kind of Muslims: Sunnis.
As a side note, they also terrorize their compatriotes who have other beliefs.
The issue we have with Iran – a Shia country, an ally of Assad – goes back to the hostage taking.
For the Iranians, the issue goes back to the 1954 toppling of Mossadegh by a CIA sponsored coup,
at the request of Anglo-Iranian, conveyed by the British government.
Again “utter lack of historical awareness”….
“those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

#5 Comment By Stephen On September 4, 2013 @ 11:36 am

Sadly, most evangelicals I’ve known (of the fundamentalist variety) would not even consider these folks real Christians, which might in part explain the cavalier attitude toward their fate here in the US. That, and Americans’ general inability to empathize with anyone who doesn’t look and sound exactly like us.

How ironic that our great “Christian” nation would be instrumental in snuffing out the last vestiges of ancient Christianity.

#6 Comment By Cbalducc On September 4, 2013 @ 11:38 am

Mr. Jenkins claims that modern Lebanon is an artificial entity. Does that mean that “Lebanese nationalists” are actually fools or thugs?

#7 Comment By spite On September 4, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

Even if the expelled Alawites and Christians were offered a home by some nation, how would they get there ? Moving millions in just a short period is not possible. One solution is to break up Syria into a post Yugoslavia type set up, the obvious problem is who will do this, and if it is a Western action, it would be very difficult to protect Christian enclaves, the political correctness backlash in the West would be as fearsome as the Muslim backlash in the Middle East. Perhaps a country like Turkey protecting the various enclaves is possibility.

#8 Comment By It’s True On September 4, 2013 @ 1:45 pm

Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq, Turkey, Azerbaijan … I don’t
have time to list them all in order of intensity, or to state the demonstrable proof of their ongoing silent purges.

But as the West lunges past “politically correct” ‘coexist’ rhetoric, into this surreal era of groveling prostration before all things Mohammed,
nations of “Muslim World” continue to eradicate Christians, apace.

1) Look at a world map, or even a student globe, that has no political [national] borders illustrated.
2) Review the historical religious population dynamics.
3) Re-read my statement above in this context.

#9 Comment By Ed K On September 4, 2013 @ 2:17 pm

As a Christian Arab American from the middle east, it always baffled me why the US stands with Islamist Wahabi terrorist in the middle east. It stood with them in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and now in Syria!. If we are really fighting them her in Boston and New York, why we standing with them over there in Syria?. The secular Syrian Government always and its people stood with the US many times. It was part of the coalition forces under Bush in 1991 war with Iraq and helped the CIA tremendously in the aftermath of 9/11 of rounding and interrogating those same terrorist Obama wants to help now?. If we really truly fighting terrorism in the world, we would be on the side of the Syrian government and not against it?. It seems that our government representative under Obama already forgot 9/11 and who truly stood by us.

#10 Comment By Manfred Arcane On September 4, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

Even as this article was posted, the terrorist Nusrah Front (Al-Qa’ida in Syria) is attacking the regime held Christian village of Maaloula. Maaloula is one of the last places (nearby Sayidnaya is another) where the locals speak “Western Aramaic,” the language spoken in Palestine at the time of Jesus. Tragic.

Bashar is a brutal tyrant but the alternative could conceivably be worse.

#11 Comment By Samn! On September 4, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

In a sermon he gave in English for a group of scholars last summer, the Syriac Catholic patriarch, Yusuf Yonan, stated that the situation (that is, in summer 2012) was comparable to the one that his community faced in 1915. For those Christians and the others that came to Syria as a refuge from the Armenian Genocide / Sayfo (as well as those who fled America’s last misbegotten adventure in Iraq), this has proven true; already, there are few, if any Christians left in Northeastern Syria, in cities like Hassake, Qamishli, Ras el-Ain, where Syriac and Armenian refugees settled and built their homes. Already there are no Christians left in the city of Homs and the few remaining in Aleppo are at extreme risk. Why is the West willing to risk empty Wadi al-Nasara, the Valley of the Christians, of its inhabitants? Damascus? Lattakia? Beirut? For no coherent objective or purpose, only to feed the demon of narcissism and vainglory!

#12 Comment By Hooly On September 4, 2013 @ 5:47 pm

I agree the situation of the Christians is tragic. We are seeing history unfold before our eyes. This process of birth, growth and death has been seen all over the world. It’s happened with Yiddish civilization in Eastern Europe, Aztec/Maya/Inca/Native civilization in the Americas, Aboriginals in Australia, and now Christians in the Middle East. Tragic, the birthplace of Christ and the Apostles subsumed by the followers of Muhammad. But than again, it’s not unique, and Christians are not immune to the patterns of history.

#13 Comment By RandomOrily On September 4, 2013 @ 6:21 pm

@It’s True

Christians do just as much groveling to their savior as Muslims, and have committed for more silent, and not so silent purges. It is best to keep your faith between yourself and your god, lest you be deceived by group mentality.

#14 Comment By Rafael On September 4, 2013 @ 6:51 pm

The “Nusayri” designation has nothing to do with the meaning ascribed to it in the text; it has to do with the Alawies being founded by a man named Ibn Nusayr. Since Alwites also live in Turkey, they acquired the denomination Nusayris by way of not confusing them with another local Shiite sect, the Alevis.

#15 Comment By Ken Hoop On September 4, 2013 @ 7:55 pm

Ed K

US policy isn’t so baffling if you just weigh which bloc or nation Israel considers its strongest enemy at any present hypothetical time.

[1]

[2]

#16 Comment By Philip Jenkins On September 4, 2013 @ 8:28 pm

With respect – the attribution to Ibn Nusayr may well be correct (although that is debated). However, writers through the centuries interpret Nusayri as “little Christians”. They may have been wrong about this, but the explanation was thought to be accurate.

#17 Comment By Escher On September 5, 2013 @ 12:14 am

The enemy of the Neocons’ enemy is their friend. Wait, isn’t Al-Qaeda also the enemy?

#18 Comment By Jason On September 5, 2013 @ 12:35 am

“If they are so exercised over about weapons of mass destruction, are they aware that Israel has two hundred nuclear warheads, with delivery systems?”

This is why the American Conservative – which has a lot of good writing in it – does not get the attention it deserves. It’s truly a stupid sentence professor, that any ethicist worth his salt would be able to shoot down in two seconds. Israel does not intentionally target civilians with nukes or anything else, as Syria and many other Middle-East countries do routinely. You are doing Christians no service by meaninglessly villifying Isreal.

Scholars who distort reality do not deserve to be listened to.

#19 Comment By Andor On September 5, 2013 @ 9:34 am

Ken Hoop, with all due respect, Israel has never supported Chechen fighters in Russia, but plenty of American so-called Democratic Institutions did. To this day even Russia doesn’t tackle the question of over 250,000 Christian Ethnic Russians who disappeared in Chechnya in the 90th. Keeping in mind that Stalin deported all Chechen nationals to Central Asia, the city of Grozny was built and inhabited by Russians. When the USSR finally fell apart, the Chechens were encouraged by the oil consortium to achieve independence from Russia with the promises of riches from the gas and oil pipes on their land. You see, Russia would never agree to the Caspian basin sending oil across its territory. That’s when the slaughter began…
Journalists like Politkovskaya, living on the Western grants, would never mention the plight of Russians, concentrating on “poor oppressed Chechens”. Once she joined in the discussion under her article in “Novaya Gazeta”, and cynically answered to us, Russians, “What do you expect of me, refuse the West grants? I have the young son to raise.”
The US started bringing murderers in under the pretext of “human rights protection”. So far the number of the Sunny Muslims in the US hasn’t reached the “critical mass”, but give it few short years, and Dearborn is already an indication of what will start happening…

#20 Comment By Ed K On September 5, 2013 @ 9:47 am

Ken Hoop, Thankyou

Great links, Thankyou I am sharing following links to a great articale by Mr. Roberts;

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#21 Comment By The001Lis On September 5, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

Do not have far to go …
The rebels executed a Christian priest!

#22 Comment By Matthew On September 5, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

It is very consistent. We help Iran’s enemies and hurt their friends.

#23 Comment By Eileen K. On September 5, 2013 @ 4:59 pm

Jason, where have you been? Haven’t you ever heard about Israel’s use of white phosphorus and cluster bombs on civilian populations in Lebanon in 2006 and the Gaza Strip in late 2008? White phosphorus is a horrific chemical weapon that burns through flesh, all the way to the bone; thus, it’s use in civilian areas is banned.

The US has also used this weapon; plus, an even more deadly weapon: depleted uranium, which is responsible for birth defects and several types of cancer. Also, DU’s effects on the land irradiated for generations, if not centuries.

#24 Comment By Jason On September 5, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

A big cause for civilian deaths in Gaza and Lebanon, Eileen, was because the Hezbollah and Hamas governments intentionally put civilians in harms way (e.g. military facilities in or around hospitals, schools, etc). Perhaps Israel could have done things better as far as a proportional response was concerned – although that is very debateable I think – but the fact is that Israel does a better job and gives more concern to ethical issues (e.g. avoiding collateral damage in warfare)by far than any other nation facing similar circumstances (try finding a another nation that expresses similar concern – you won’t find one). It’s for this reason that I got admittedly a bit pissy – there are a hundred other nations in the world (indeed, basically every other country in the Arab world) that are far more brutal in their treatment of their subjects, and who does the professor decide to criticize besides Egypt in making a comparison to the intentional gassing of hundreds of civilians in Syria? Israel,simply for possesing nukes that they have never used and pretend they don’t even have! Good grief.
Anyway, I’ve made my point, and I also want to stress here that I think the rest of Dr. Jenkin’s article is very good, and hopefully will get some of the attention it very much deserves, since the plight of Syria’s Christians is a very dire one indeed.

#25 Comment By Georgiy Bordakov On September 5, 2013 @ 9:35 pm

The001Lis,
I watched this awful video and to my unpleasant surprise I have clearly heard Russian (“не кучкуйтесь” – means “don’t make a crowd”). I did not hear clear any non-Russian accent in these words (I am native Russian). What is going on?

#26 Comment By The001Lis On September 6, 2013 @ 1:50 am

You are absolutely right, Georgiy. You’ll see a lot by reading the discussion below the video. These are the voices of Wahhabis in the Caucasus. They speak with an accent. This is the military wing of Al-Qaeda, fighting against Assad for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate.
Best regards.

#27 Comment By Vance On September 6, 2013 @ 9:43 am

Our “ally” Turkey already exterminated its many millions of indigenous Christians – Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks – in the 20th century, and it represses the remnants of those peoples. But conservatives pay little attention to that.

#28 Comment By Bob Williford On September 6, 2013 @ 11:55 am

Dr. Jenkins asks, “Most puzzling of all, though, is why the United States seems so determined to eradicate Christianity in one of its oldest heartlands, at such an agonizingly sensitive historical moment”

Seems to me that the so-called “Progressives” and others are doing all that they can to neuter and eventually remove Christian influence in America. With that in mind, why is it so strange that “the United States seems so determined to eradicate Christianity in one of its oldest heartlands” in Syria? I do not agree that this is an effort by the “United States” but rather an effort by political, humanistic, and other non-Christian groups to eradicate Christianity everywhere….Period.

#29 Comment By Pilgrimsoul On September 6, 2013 @ 8:54 pm

The author seems to be blissfully unaware that his thesis is an argument for involvement and intervention, rather than against it. The only way we can check the danger to Christians is to back the moderate FSA fighters (many of whom are Christians) against the Al Qaida affiliates, who are now engaged in destroying Christian villages. That means supplying them with weapons (rather than just talking about it), and that also means involvement, eventually.

The Al Qaida affiliates are at present nowhere near strong enough to seize power if Assad suddenly falls. And a single military strike will not bring Assad down. A good editor and some research would have made this article stronger.

The three great American interests in the area are the humanitarian refugee crisis, the use of poison gas, and the creation of a safe haven for Al Qaida affiliates in Syria. We have good reason for limited involvement. The problem is that the trauma of Iraq–a situation in which the President of the strongest superpower in the world ruthlessly lied to get his people into war–has been internalized deeply, and the anger is now coming out against US government. John Kerry could say that two and two equals four, and the American people would feel that he’s lying.

Bad wars based on lies make it impossible to rationally do risk assessment regarding the reality-based security issues in the near future. For that reasons the present psychosis will work against involvement in Syria, but intervention against the Al Qaida affiliates will eventually be necessary, at the point that they create a significant safe haven in Syria.

Al Qaida declared war on the US in the 1990s, remember? If that isn’t important to the security of this nation, I don’t know what is.

#30 Comment By josef On September 7, 2013 @ 6:28 pm

sad story about christian in other countries can also happen in any countries. President or leaders of any countries can easily be influenced by anyone surrounding him/her.

#31 Comment By Jett Davis On September 7, 2013 @ 9:49 pm

As in Egypt, the NeoCon & Liberal Internationalist establishment have decided to back all things Sunni against both the Shiites (Iraq excepted), and the ‘secular’ military. And as the near-failed state of Libya is proving, that proposition is a gamble–a very risky gamble–that has inexplicably gained traction within academic national security and military industrial circles. I’m afraid this new ideology–of embracing radical Islamists of the Sunni variety–will be with us until the last establishment Republican and Democratic hawk is drummed out of congress. It can’t come too soon.

#32 Comment By GAK On September 8, 2013 @ 11:43 am

“Christian numbers fluctuated dramatically over time. A hundred years ago, ‘Syria,’ broadly defined, was home to a large and diverse Christian population, including Catholics, Orthodox, and Maronites.”

Maronites are Catholics, just an FYI.

There are *16 liturgical rites in the Catholic Church. All are under the Holy Father in Rome. A lot of people think the Pope is the head of the “Roman Catholic Church.” True, but he is head of more than that. Every Church in union with him is Catholic.

As bishop of Rome, he is head of the Latin Rite (people who belong to the Latin Rite are called “Roman Catholics” in popular usage). The Latin Rite is one of the 16 rites mentioned above.

So, as the bishop of Rome, he is the head of the Latin Rite. But, as the Vicar of Christ, he is the universal head of all 16 rites.

All of the other 15 rites have a local bishop at their head who is in union with Rome. Some have a local patriarch, depending on their history & culture, who is “under” the Pope and in union with him.

For example, the Maronites have a patriarch. He is a cardinal and voted in the conclave to elect Pope Francis:

[4]

The Antiochian liturgical tradition has three branches: Maronite Rite, Syrian Rite, and Syro-Malankara Rite. Those constitute 3 of the 16 rites.

Others of the 16 rites are the Chaldean, Ethiopic, Ukranian, Armenian etc.

Some of these rites are ancient Churches that have always been in union with Rome. Others belonged to Churches that broke off (e.g., in the Great Schism) and then later petitioned to return to union with Rome.

*16 covers the broadest count. E.g., I believe there are some smaller groups under the Byzantine tradition not counted in this number.

#33 Comment By Mario Liggi On September 8, 2013 @ 3:35 pm

How did Christians survive under Muslims for such a long time to begin with?
The author states that Christians have prospered for centuries under Islamic rule, so why are we concerned now?
It is most likely that the US is orchestrating an overthrow of the regime with the help of officers from his own sect in order to prevent the total takeover of Syria by extremists.
The main fact the author chooses to ignore is that Assad will fall with or without US strike. But if we do intervene we might have a chance of changing the outcome

#34 Comment By Ara Danielian On September 8, 2013 @ 5:13 pm

It is naive to think that American administration does not know that its policy in the Middle East actively “supports” the eradication of christians in the region. In the Big Game such a notion as preservatyion of a millenia-old civilization worth nothing. There are much more important hierarchical objectives: oil, anti-Shia agenda, ultimate oppresion of Russia in the larger Middle East including Caucasus and further more …

#35 Comment By richard hellstrom On September 8, 2013 @ 6:09 pm

[5]
Syria possessed 2.5 billion barrels of crude oil as of January 2013, which makes it the largest proved reserve of crude oil in the eastern Mediterranean according to the Oil & Gas Journal estimate, Besides Iraq.
Syria still controls one of the largest conventional hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean.
[6]
So what was this unfolding strategy to undermine Syria and Iran all about? According to retired NATO Secretary General Wesley Clark, a memo from the Office of the US Secretary of Defense just a few weeks after 9/11 revealed plans to “attack and destroy the governments in 7 countries in five years”, starting with Iraq and moving on to “Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.” In a subsequent interview, Clark argues that this strategy is fundamentally about control of the region’s vast oil and gas resources.
And to cap the week off, the other night they showed the rebels on the news committing war crimes against the Syria soldiers by gunning them down in the back as they lie on the ground as prisoners and had the reporters endorsing their war crimes and signifying how great it was to use such a evil force against Syria. The only thing better would of been showing the rebels shooting the Christian women and children down in the streets and blowing them up in their homes with John McCain standing in the background wearing his POW pin telling us how cool his coward friends are. So is America for war crimes or against them or are they the ones behind the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Them and the good people..

#36 Comment By Philip Jenkins On September 9, 2013 @ 10:07 am

In response to GAK: Maronites are indeed faithful Catholics, but in common parlance in the Middle East, the two terms are usually distinguished.

#37 Comment By The001Lis On September 9, 2013 @ 5:04 pm

The bad news, folks…
“FNA correspondent in Northern Syria reported that the Al-Nusra terrorists have attacked the Christian city of Maloula in Damascus countryside on Sunday and cut off the heads of 30 civilians.

The report said that a number of women and children were also among those beheaded by the Al-Qaeda terrorists.

The armed rebels also abducted a total of 15 other Christian citizens in Maloula city last night.”

[7]

R.I.P.

#38 Comment By GAK On September 10, 2013 @ 11:24 am

I know a lot of Maronites, but I don’t know any that would list Catholics alongside them in the same sentence as a separate group! (Same for Byzantines.)

All of us, though, live in Rome. So perhaps we are imbued more with the universal Church.

#39 Comment By Els DL On September 13, 2013 @ 8:00 pm

Wasn’t it Pres. Bush the Lesser whose family is so friendly with the Saudi leaders who flew his friends right out of the US after 9/11? From the little I know, Saudi Arabia is a majority Sunni country and US oil companies don’t have any qualms about being in their country, sucking up to them. The Saudi government is responsible for exporting Wahabism, one of the most extreme forms of Islam. Let’s not just blame Pres. O. for his relationship with the Saudis.

#40 Comment By Dave On December 17, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

I know I am writing this late after this article was published, but I wanted to share my experience and knowledge. I come from a Syrian Christian family- Orthodox, like most Christians in Syria. The recent revolutions in the Arab world have hurt many people, not just Christians. The problem is that Islamists from Saudi Arabia and Gulf Arab states want all Arab nations of North Africa and the Levant to be exactly like them- Salafists who use brutality in the name of God that wasn’t even seen in the times of Muhammad. I feel strongly that if a democratic vote was allowed, most Syrians, the vast majority, would vote in a moderate government with mostly secular laws. People have to realize that not all Arab Muslim countries are the same. Syrian society is MUCH more secular and liberal than Egypt, Yemen, and of course Gulf Arab states. But when I say liberal I mean by Arab standards. Growing up Syrian Christian, I never once heard anything bad said about Christians from any Muslim. I never felt left out, persecuted, nor do I know any non Sunni who ever felt persecuted. All this talk of sectarianism is new to Syrians. Ask any non Sunni and they will tell you they never experienced persecution from the government for their religious beliefs or from the broader Sunni society. Syria is one nation, and its radical forces from Saudi Arabia who wish to change this.

Syrian Muslims love Syrian Christians and Syrian Christians love Syrian Muslims. Its the Saudi Salafists who wish to cause harm to those who do not share their demented beliefs. Saudi Arabia needs to get out of Syria!

#41 Comment By Bob On July 19, 2014 @ 1:20 am

Wow the author of this article written (Sept 4 2013) really new his stuff. He said:

So here is the nightmare. If the U.S., France, and some miscellaneous allies strike at the regime, they could conceivably so weaken it that it would collapse. Out of the ruins would emerge a radically anti-Western regime, which would kill or expel several million Christians and Alawites.

What he said would happen seems to be happening.
Articles (7/9/14) read:
Syria conflict: Isis marches further into Syria tipping the balance of power in the civil war.
and…
Being a Christian in ISIS territory can cost you your livelihood, your liberty, or even your life