29 February 2012

Syrian Christians Prefer Assad

On this blog I generally eschew news or commentary about political or geo-political events. In this instance, however, the situation in Syria is especially relevant to a priest in the Antiochian Archdiocese.

Seeing and hearing precious little about how the Syrian "revolution" is affecting minorities and why the dictator retains support, I found this NY times article especially helpful. The following excerpt is especially of interest to me:

Syria’s minorities have the example of Iraq in considering their own future, should the Assad government fall: Assyrian Christians, Yazidis and others were brutally persecuted by insurgents. In Egypt, where a similar paradigm was toppled with the long-serving dictator Hosni Mubarak, Christians have experienced more sectarian violence, increasing political marginalization and a growing link between Islamic identity and citizenship.

“Christians are all saying that Syria risks becoming the new Iraq, a country divided among ethnic and religious lines where there is no place for Christians,” said the Rev. Bernardo Cervellera, the editor in chief of AsiaNews, a Catholic news agency. Syria, while not a democracy, “at least protects them,” he said.


123 said...

"You see in Syria how quickly the regime turned the democracy push there into a sectarian war. Remember, the opposition in Syria began as a largely peaceful, grass-roots, pan-Syrian movement for democratic change. But it was deliberately met by President Bashar al-Assad with murder and sectarian venom. He wanted to make the conflict about his Alawite minority versus the country’s Sunni Muslim majority as a way of discrediting the opposition and holding his base.

As Peter Harling and Sarah Birke, experts on the Middle East who have been in Syria, wrote in a recent essay: “Rather than reform, the regime’s default setting has been to push society to the brink. As soon as protests started ... state media showed staged footage of arms being found in a mosque in Dara’a, the southern city where protests first broke out, and warned that a sit-in in Homs ... was an attempt to erect a mini-caliphate. This manipulation of Syrians meant the regime was confident that the threat of civil war would force citizens and outside players alike to agree on preserving the existing power structure as the only bulwark against collapse.”"


123 said...

The argument seems to go, if Assad falls then the Islamists will slaughter the Christians. Not sure that justifies slaughtering so many today. It also refuses to acknoweledge that not so long ago all Middle Eastern states were "Islamist" states by today's reckoning - and there were more Christians in those countries then.

Fr John W Fenton said...

There are several foreign policy experts as well as people in and from Syria who would dispute the first sentence in the NY Times opinion above.