June 8th, 2012
10:06 AM ET

Syria’s Christian conundrum

By Hind Aboud Kabawat, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Hind Aboud Kabawat is a Syrian attorney. She is also a conflict resolution specialist and senior research analyst at the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution, which is based at George Mason University in Virginia. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Hind Aboud Kabawat.

One of the most perplexing aspects of the Syrian revolution is the deep ambivalence felt by so many of the country’s Christians when faced with the prospect of freedom after four decades of authoritarian dictatorship. Some Christians have enthusiastically embraced the prospect of democratic change and a more open civil society, but many have not.

As a Christian, this provokes a great deal of sadness in me and others who are committed to transforming Syria into an open, democratic, inclusive, secular and religiously tolerant society. But the problem is that many, if not most, Christians in Syria do not believe that this will be the outcome of changing the regime.

On the contrary, they believe the present regime — corrupt and repressive as it has been — is the only true guarantor of secularism in Syria and, with it, the acceptance of the Christians as equals to their Muslim neighbors. Further, many Christians firmly believe that what will replace the regime is a fundamentalist Muslim theocracy that will strip Christians and other minorities of their political and civil rights, including their right to practice their religion in peace.

I sincerely believe they are misguided in this belief, and one of the principal tasks of the Syrian revolution going forward is to convince the Christian community to forsake such fears in favor of building a new Syria, democratic and secular, with their Shia, Sunni, Alawite, Druze and Kurd brothers and sisters.

Of course, when Christians do “rebel,” the regime responds with particular outrage and violence: “How dare you Christians criticize us when we have protected you all these years?”

Take, for instance, the case of a young Damascene woman named Caroline, who said she was arrested earlier this year and imprisoned for 25 days in a two-square meter cell. Her crime? Giving children Easter eggs wrapped in paper containing verses from both the Koran and the Bible.

For this simple act of kindness and tolerance, Caroline was interrogated for hours by the secret police, she said. Why, they asked, did she include a verse from the Koran on an Easter egg? Why is she involved in this kind of work? Why is a Christian showing support for the Syrian revolution? Although they did not say it in so many words, their main message was: Don’t you know what would happen to Christian communities when you “lose” the protection of this present regime?

Christians do know what could happen. In the wake of Saddam Hussein’s downfall, the Christian community in Iraq has more or less been decimated; those who haven’t fled the country are confronted with systematic repression. After the civil war in Lebanon, which Christians are generally perceived to have lost, the Christian community remains on the defensive and is shrinking. And in post-Mubarak Egypt, the Coptic Christians – 10% of the population - remain vigilant about their rights and their security.

None of these events has been lost on the Christian community in Syria, which is why many of them have not enthusiastically embraced the revolution.

Many of those who are predisposed to support the revolution do not because of the weakness and division within the Syrian opposition. For a Christian community that is inherently skittish about confronting established political authority, a weak opposition movement does little to allay their fears about challenging an entrenched 40-year-old regime that has shown time and time again its willingness to use brutal violence to silence its critics.

More from GPS: The great Syria divide

There are, however, many Christian Syrians who are, in fact, playing a pivotal role in opposition to the regime. Some, like George Sabra and Michel Kilo, are politically out front and vocal. Others, including many women, prefer to work behind the scenes doing humanitarian work inside Syria’s besieged towns and cities.

Among the Christians performing this vital humanitarian work is Yara Chammas, a 21-year-old woman who is the daughter of a well-known human rights lawyer, Michel Chammas. When unrest erupted in Baba Amr, Yara organized the distribution of medicine, food, blankets and baby milk. Her courageous display of Christian compassion resulted in her being jailed for 60 days over the Easter holidays. Yet not one leader in the Christian community came to her aid. Why? Because many of them vilified her as a “traitor” to their community for deigning to help the “enemy,” i.e., the children of Baba Amr. So much for their sense of compassion and caring.

Despite such hardships, the political engagement of Christians like Chammas hark back to a period in Syrian history when the Christian community was critically important to the political life of the country. Indeed, Christians founded both the Baath Party and the Syrian National Party. One of Syria’s greatest political leaders, Prime Minister Fares Khoury, was a Christian.

But since the advent of the Baath regime, Christians have played a much less visible role in the country’s politics. Minister is the highest position ever held by a Christian since the 1960s, and no Christian has ever held a serious leadership position. Even under the present proposed constitution, no Christian can be elected president.

Given their relative lack of status, why do Christian Syrians remain so loyal to this regime? It likely revolves around their fear of Islamic fundamentalism and their belief that the so-called secular state will be replaced by an Iran-style theocracy. There is also a fear that what will ensue from the collapse of Bashar al-Assad’s repressive police state will be Iraq-style chaos and sectarian civil war.

How can such fears be addressed and allayed? It is time for all Syrians, no matter what their faith, to begin thinking like citizens of a common state rather than just members of a sectarian religious community. Our focus should be on the rule of law, an independent judiciary, a free press, free markets, democratic elections and an accountable government. Those will be the bulwarks of a free, independent, secular and inclusive Syria.

I am a devout Christian, proud and respectful of the church’s teachings. But in the political realm, I am first and foremost a citizen, a citizen of the new free Syria. I believe that my fellow Christians will come to feel the same way. I also believe the same should be true for our Sunni, Alawite, Druze and Kurdish sisters and brothers.

Recently, a rather extraordinary scene unfolded at the funeral for young Bassel Chehadeh, the young Christian filmmaker gunned down by the regime in Homs.

As thousands from all religious faiths gathered at a church in the Christian Kassaa district of Damascus, security forces bolted the church doors shut and began beating and terrorizing the mourners. The parishioners responded by reciting Christian and Muslim prayers and chanting “Syrians are one people.” It was a beautiful sight.

We are one people, and citizens of one state. Not a Christian Syria or a Sunni Syria or an Alawite Syria. Just Syria, the homeland of all of us.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Hind Aboud Kabawat.

Topics: Religion • Revolution • Syria

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soundoff (273 Responses)
  1. Fred Phred

    And I believe you are mistaken. If the "rebels" win, the country changes into a non-tolerant society and you and anyone like you will be forced to run for your lives.

    June 8, 2012 at 11:27 am | Reply
    • Dan

      Exactly. Why would Syria be any different?

      June 8, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Reply
      • j. von hettlingen

        Let Syria be a Russian protectorate, under the condition that Assad goes. The Syrians start from there once the situation calms down.

        June 8, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
      • American of Syrian descent

        Very insightful peace by Ms Kabawat. Im an American of Lebanese and Syrian descent. My family is Sunni.The only part I disagree with her on is where she stated "The Christians of Lebanon lost the civil war". My cousin- in -law served in the Lebanese Armed Forces for 10 years and said he never had a single Muslim superior or general as the Lebanese Military is in firm hands of the Christians allied with Hezbollah. Never the less, it is well known that the Alawite controlled Syrian government plays into the fears of the Syrian Christians. Syria has a VERY LARGE SECULAR SUNNI middle class that is more likely to prefer a secular-democratic government over the failed "Iranian model"; and thats a fact!

        June 8, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
      • don

        the irony here, is that both the Christian and Muslim religions, consider the Old Testament, as the word of God.
        Moses, Abraham, Jesus, are highly regarded by the Muslims, as major prophets.

        the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish religions have a lot in common.
        And are all based on the same Old Testament.
        The Muslims especially revere Abraham, as a major prophet from God/Allah.

        June 9, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
      • 2man6

        Receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour, repent of your sin and He will change your life into something awesome with a benefit package that's out of this world.

        June 10, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • J.T

      Have you ever been to Syria to see such think?. Christians has been here in Syria for centuries the no one witness some thing like you said. If so bring your evidents.

      June 8, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Reply
      • Derigible

        Sorry, ran out of evidents.
        Will chocolates do ?

        June 8, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
      • J.T

        It will be good :(. My English writing is not very good so sorry for the mistakes but I hope you got my point.

        June 8, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
      • Mark

        J.T. – I'm sure you know that Lebanon and Iraq are right next door to Syria and Egypt is fairly close as well. Given that the writer admits that bad things happened to Christians in those countries, why would Syria be different? The culture of those countries can't be very different given their close proximity.

        Christian/Muslim unity against Assad is temporary. The "enemy of my enemy is my friend spirit" will be gone once the common enemy is gone.

        June 8, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
      • J.T

        Mark- Thank you for reply but I'm sure that is not the case I'm from Damascus and I'm Muslim I have many Christian friends so my does my father. Also if you read Syrian history Fares Alkweri(Christian) was political ally with Islamic brotherhood party- He was prime minister of Syria-. Also now michel kilo said on Alarabiya tv about month ago he believe Islamic brotherhood promises and I also believe Islamic brotherhood,michel kilo,goerg sabra want best for Syrian before any thing else and they want ever do to each other what Alassad Regime does.

        June 8, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
      • Elizabeth

        The Christian position in Syria is more or less influenced by the presence of one of the oldest Patriarchates: Antioch, which was moved to Damascus centuries ago, and located on the street called "Straight" where St. Paul was given his sight. There is no older Christian community on earth. Churches and monasteries from very early centuries are still active there. There are many American Christians of Syrian descent as well, and they usually say very little about the Middle East to keep the church out of trouble, but they do participate in charity. This article assumes that most people know about the antiquity of Christianity in Syria; a couple of lines should have been added so that people would know.

        June 9, 2012 at 12:55 am |
      • Simon

        I have evidence, lots of it:

        How about the genocide against Syrian, Armenian and Greek Christians perpetrated by Ottoman forces (Turkish, Kurdish and Syrian Arab) that killed millions of Christians in 1915? Go to Dayr Azzour and discover the very first gas chambers in history, caves in which Christians were thrown and fires were lit to suffocate them. Or the mass graves where you can scratch the earth and find human bones. Islamic treatment of Christians in Syria is the prototype of the holocaust and Hitler's inspiration, who admired Islamic supremacy and fanatical, murderous soldiers.

        How about 1860 in Damascus when 10,000 Christians, completely unarmed and defenseless were murdered by Syrian Arabs and Kurds while Ottomans watched. 60,000 lived in caves as Moslems went on a killing rampage because of events that happened in Mount Lebanon that Christians in Damascus had nothing to do with. Christians were nearly exterminated completely in Damascus.

        The entire history of Islam in Syria is one of slaughter, persecution, forced conversions, oppression, slavery and subjugation of Christians. Learn your history and stop believing the lies of Islam and Arabism that pretend Islam is the divine word of God and that it is a peaceful religion. Its entire history is murder against non-muslims in Syria and elsewhere. The entire middle east and north africa had a christian majority when islam arrived, don't deliberately blind yourself to history to believe the lie that islam behaved just as any imperialist and coloniaslist ideology or that it won't continue to behave the same until all non-muslims submit, pay jiziyeh or are killed.

        June 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
      • Mohammad

        To Simon, if the Muslims were slaughtering Christians all of these years in the rate that you described then by now and after 1400 years of Muslim conquest we should have no Christian population in the Middle East. The truth of the matter is there are thousands of churches throughout the Muslim and Arab worlds today and new ones get built weekly if not daily. In fact according to Wikipedia percentage of Christians in the holy land for example in 1922 was 9.5% and now after sixty years of the Jewish state they are less than 4%. Till this day and for almost one thousand years the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the old city gets open by a Muslim. Christians in Iraq were down almost 50% since Uncle Sam started fu$#ing with Iraq in the last 30 years or so. I am not denying that there are extremists but these are repulsive to all people there and there is a big question mark on who really stands behind them. The 1860 thing you talked about happened between the rich Druze landlords and the Christian peasants mainly from Lebanon, both are minorities and killing was both ways, have nothing to do with over all Muslim population oppressing the Christian minority. The ottoman ruled the Middle East for 400 or 500 years including the holy land and only when they became secular in the last years that minorities started to suffer under their rule especially during World War I where they expanded beyond their means and started unnecessary wars. Don’t forget that the Greeks also slaughtered Turkish civilians in the 1919-1922 war. Please don’t have selective memories; The French, British, and the Italians slaughtered millions during colonization and Libyans and Algerians are just examples. If you want to put people on trial trust me; Muslims will be the last to put on the stand.

        June 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
      • PRISM 1234

        ..."he believe Islamic brotherhood promises and I also believe Islamic brotherhood...."

        Oh, how naive!

        June 10, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • Rich

      Right on. Given the fate of Christians once the Islamists showed up in force in Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and Libya, what possible evidence does the author have for thinking that won't happen in Syria? No, it's not the same country – but Islam is the common thread in all of them.

      June 8, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Reply
      • in response to the dumb...

        there is no christian population in libya .......if muslims really had it out for christians they wouldve wiped them off the map (especially in the heartlands) centuries ago....90% of the people commenting on this board have never been to a muslim country, talked to a muslim about his/her beliefs or even read the quran's commentaries and islamic jurisprudence.....y don't you people stop commenting and try reading a book from a legitimate source.

        June 8, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Bob

      Christians, atheists, ect... will be eradicated down to nothing as we have seen so many times over the past 30 years.

      June 8, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Reply
    • Sam

      Muslim fundamentalists used young people in Eqypt to drive out Mubarak. Eqyptian military is next, then the young people themselves, who are helping Muslim Brotherhood to take p[ower. They will do the same in Syria. Christians do not have good optins. It's either the dictator or the muslim fundamentalists.

      June 8, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Reply
    • American of Syrian descent

      Very insightful peace by Ms Kabawat. Im an American of 1/2 Lebanese 1/2 Syrian descent. My family is Sunni.The only part I disagree with her on is where she stated "The Christians of Lebanon lost the civil war". My cousin- in -law served in the Lebanese Armed Forces for 10 years and said he never had a single Muslim superior or general as the Lebanese Military is in firm hands of the Christians allied with Hezbollah. Never the less, it is well known that the Alawite controlled Syrian government plays into the fears of the Syrian Christians. Syria has a VERY LARGE SECULAR SUNNI middle class that is more likely to prefer a secular-democratic government over the failed "Iranian model"; and thats a fact!

      June 8, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Reply
      • WB

        Your cousin is simply a liar, bipolar or fanatic Sunni (wahabist). In the Lebanese army you have a council where ALL sects are represented by the highest rank including Sunni. Sunni commanders are pretty much the same number as the Shiite as the Christians. thought I clarify this although the article is not about this subject.

        June 9, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • Alan

      as the article says, this what the Government tried and succeeded in making you believe that they are the only choice but you have to remember that for hundreds and thousands of years christian lived in this land and there was no Assad to protect them. the longer you think and act in this way your hypothesis will become a reality as the oppositions whom are filled with anger will see you as enemy backing the Assad

      June 8, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Reply
    • truthordare7

      Christians better be smart about this or they will end up like all the Christians throughout the muslim world, decimated, dimmi-fied, and castrated. Once the brotherhood takes over, it is all over for their civil liberties. Is this woman this niave? She believes it won't happen in Syria? Does she wants to stack her whole peers on that assumption? What if she is wrong? This is a high stakes game where the loser actually loses their lives and livelihood. Muslim and Secular govts are a joke. It is either a strong Dictator or a mullah. There are just made too retarded by that book written from an account of a guy who believes somebody speaks to him. We put these people in the mental asylum these days. But we have a billion plus people blindly following this. It is the joke of the century.

      June 9, 2012 at 8:53 am | Reply
    • Joseph

      I assure you that the writer of this article is extremely shallow in her assessment of the Syrian demographic and religious realities. I am a Syrian Christian from Homs province. In the recent past there has been a disturbing phenomenon of an increasingly active religious activism that many fundamentalists groups have espoused across the city. They generally hate the secular and what they perceive as"hedonistic and non pious" behaviors of Christians and Alwaites and other liberated Sunni muslims. Many local stories that have been corroborated tell of their zealous desire to conquer those perceived enemies of god and Islam and deprive them of their life style. some stories even tell of their plans to divide the women and real estate bounties they acquire after their revolution succeeds and they establish their rule. I wish the Syrian people will think of their Syrian citizenship as the supreme marker that define them, but,alas, there are dark forces, many of which are supported and encouraged by surrounding monarchies such as Saudi Arabia and Quatar that want to turn Syria into another theocratic dictatorship that will force minorities to either convert and assimilate or be cleansed and driven out of the country!

      June 9, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Reply
      • turthordare7

        Sadly, I agree with you. I can't believe the niavity of this woman. She is going to stake the future of the whole Christian community on an assumption and a sincere belief?? Look at the evidence all around you in the present and in history. It is really not that difficult. The Alwaties will also fight to the death because they are the minorities too and probably end up getting massacred. Democracy got gets one shot in muslim countries and then they abandon it right afterwards.

        June 10, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Marcus

      Syria is currently a secular republic, however if the Saudi Wahabis take over, you will have Taliban style of government killing Shias, Sunnis, Sufis, Christians, Jews, etc. all day long. The Free Syrian Army = Wahabi Terrorists

      June 9, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Reply
    • Tom

      Just look at what has been happening in Egypt or Libya. Fundamentalists are winning and Christians are losing any little freedom they had for practicing their religion.

      June 9, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Reply
    • Sherri

      I really don't see much difference. They are barely tolerated now. Most non Muslims, in Muslim countries are on the run for their lives. Islamic countries do not tolerate any other religion. Of course they want everyone else to tolerate them though. Churches are burned, Christians killed on a regular basis.

      June 9, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Reply
    • Sherri

      You all need to look up and research dhimmitude. The practice whereby non Muslims are 'allowed' to live in certain areas, but are subject to many restrictions, must pay a tax just for being non Muslim and are not treated equally at all. Do the research folks. It's been going on for centuries.

      June 9, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Reply
      • field234

        Yes, and dhimmitude is practiced in the United States in Islamic lands in Michigan, Minnesota, where ever Muslims take over.

        June 12, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • fofo

      I agree with President Obama to stay out of Syria. So far every president, Carter who caused the ousting of Shah in Iran, Clinton by helping the Muslim in Serbia, Bush by helping the Shiet in Iraq have caused much damages to the Christian communities. America is not sophisticated enough to see the blow-back in any of these situations.

      June 10, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Reply
    • Sarah

      How is the proposed Syria, exactly, more free? Who wins? Will any laws still hold, which ones (specifically)? Thank you!

      June 10, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Reply
    • eric calderone

      I agree with Phred. Western countries whose leaders support the Sunni opposition to Assad, have pretty much repeatedly described the overthrow of Assad as ushering in a Saudi-style state in Syria. Unfortunately, Saudi Arabia is even more repressive than Syria. Given that choice, Assad is the lesser of the 2 evils.

      June 11, 2012 at 8:46 am | Reply
    • ola

      you're very mistaken sir,
      we christians of syria are more frightened by the cruelty of the regime who has killed or captured many christians,..
      beside the rebels are not only Islamic.... there are many of other religions as well

      July 19, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Reply
  2. Tigran Khalatyan

    And this is exactly the policy of United States: bring radical islamists to power in the Middle East despite all the concerns to asserts it's global domination by chaos.

    June 8, 2012 at 11:40 am | Reply
    • SmarterThanYou

      The United States has created monsters such as Sadaam, supported them, done business with them, and determines their life cycles.
      Iran is a blessing for the US military industrial cabal because it gives them a bogeyman to ramp up military spending over.
      Want proof? Where are the WMDs? Why have Christians been persecuted more since the US went into Iraq then before? Why are the Taliban coming back in Afghanistan?
      Mission not accomplished, but deceitful conspiracies were.
      Live your lies, but know that your government is not your friend.

      June 8, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Reply
      • GhostCoyote

        Both sides of the Cold War backed and armed dictators across the globe from Latin America to South East Asian and the Middle East. America tended to back secular dictators because they tended to be non-Communist. Sometimes that backfired when they got a little 'too big for their britches' as it were. The Soviet side doesn't exactly have a sterling record either (Pol Pot, Fidel, Kim Il Sung) The only difference is that the Soviet Union isn't still around to catch that bit of Karma in the face.

        June 8, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
      • Bob

        Rubbish, the Soviet Union supplied Saddam with over 80% of his weapons, with France & the UK a close 2nd & 3rd place..... the US trailing in forth place only during Iran/Iraq war.

        June 8, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
      • Asunja

        I tend to agree with you (even though not liking your screen name). US 'faux-pas' go back to Lenin when the US financed him thinking he would be good to keep Russia busy with a civil war and in the process starting the dreaded communist enemy, which followed them even to this day and created others like Cuba. Closing your eyes to history is denying the truth.
        We have seen over and over that all the countries in the Far East are not choosing democracy, but an Islamic theocracy. After all that money NATO & the US spent to 'free' Libya, now it chose Sharia law. Why should the any US or European person have someone they know die for those countries? Or have more tax money wasted?

        June 8, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • WB

      if this is true, which I don't think it is the case, then the US learned nothing from IRAN in the 80's. Fanatism creates chaos but when this chaos is re-organized, it's target will be the developed world including Israel. so far no moves are good for the US or Israel int eh Middle east even the fall of the Assad regime!!!!!

      June 9, 2012 at 1:07 am | Reply
  3. Scott

    what has already happened in iraq to their christians and what is happening to egypts christians. or what direction the other african countries are going since the arab spring. then there is history. does anyone know what happened to the christians of southern lebanon? how about the christians of jesus birthplace in bethlehem.
    well, what fred phred said.

    June 8, 2012 at 11:42 am | Reply
  4. pmmarion

    This guy is living in a dream world if he believes that if the current regime falls that the christians will not be persecuted and harassed for their beliefs. A fundamentalist government will take over and "democracy" will only come about within the narrow confines that the theocracy will allow. I.E. the "majority" rules with an iron fist and it is either our way or the highway.

    June 8, 2012 at 11:53 am | Reply
  5. Paul

    I think you are deluding yourself. Despite acknowledging the realities in other countries you'd rather believe the never ending lies of muslims. Once in power you will no longer be friends and the imams will order muslims to be muslims which is to say intolerant of all other religions. If you are not in the majority, better have a gun.

    June 8, 2012 at 11:55 am | Reply
    • J.T

      This is an absolute lie. Before this regime Fares alkhori (Christians) was prime minister and was an ally for Islamic brotherhood party. Also Michel Kilo (Christians) said on Alarabyia TV he believes slamic brotherhood party promisis

      June 8, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Reply
  6. Common Sense

    All this is religious enmity and bigotry. People are being massacred by the thousands, and you are worrying about practicing religion in peace? Last time I checked the Crusades are done and over with in the history books. Most rational people know that all of this is fear mongering by non other than the common bigots out there. Islam strictly allows people of all faiths to practice their religion or live without persecution or injustice from others. If one or a few petty criminals violate this provision, then certainly they are non-religious and have no sense of accountability.

    June 8, 2012 at 11:58 am | Reply
    • Rob Lanken

      You really need a reality check.

      June 8, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Reply
    • GhostCoyote

      What a religion says, and what the believers in a religion do, are often two completely different things, as many athiests are quick to point out about Christians in America. The fact remains that while the Koran forbids Muslims killing other Muslims, all a group (for example Sunnis) has to do is say that another Islamic sect (such as Shiittes) aren't true Muslims and therefore the tenant doesn't apply. That's how Al Qida justifies their violence against other Islamic groups

      June 8, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Reply
    • hh

      More than 1 million Assyrian Christians have been forced to leave their ancient homeland in Iraq since the 2003 US invasion. I think they have to fear more than "one or a few petty criminals". Most went to Syria – probably the last refuge in the world for them.

      June 8, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Reply
    • flt

      i got news for you. religion is a human condition. people will always be religious. if they dont pray to a deity they will pray to a man or an idol.. its been that way since dawn of mankind. people who think the problem is "god" do not understand the differences between being religious and having faith in god. and EVEN if religion would somehow magically disappear from the face of the earth, man would still kill millions of other men, it too is in our nature. and wed kill for no reason other than to kill.. its what we do.. this is why we need god, not religion.

      June 8, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Reply
    • Common Sense

      hey! You stole my name!

      June 8, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Reply
    • Sherri

      What world are you living in? Non Muslims are not free to practice their religion in ANY Muslim country. Do you not read the articles about churches being burned, and non Muslims being killed?This is happening all the time! My god you're naive. Muslims do not tolerate any other religion. The Koran says to kill all infidels. And they do. And they will keep doing it. You are incredibly delusional. I simply cannot believe you are saying this and actually believe it.

      June 9, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Reply
  7. GhostCoyote

    While I admire your political position and conviction, the fact remains that even if the Christian community were to follow your lead there would be no guarantee of oppression following the overthrow of Assad. Just because you extend your hand in good faith and friendship, it is naive to trust the other parties won't take your hand then lop it off. I'm not advocating xenophobia or paranoia, just be wary. Diplomacy without an army behind you is a fools errand. Perhaps years working in Law Enforcement have twisted my world view as I don't readily trust people, but that doesn't make it any less valid in my opinion.

    June 8, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Reply
  8. george

    Christians are equal to their Muslim neighbors and have all rights and this only happened during President Hafez Alassad and the great president Bashar Alassad. The defense minister in Syria is Christian and many more holding important positions in the government. I am Christian from Syria and I live in the USA. I love President Bashar Assad and Syrian Army and pray God to bless them and help them in their war against the Islamic terrorists and who ever support them. Yes terrorists who killed lots of innocent people and cut their bodies to pieces including lots of Christians’ young men, women and children. My uncles and cousins were kicked out of their homes by those Islamic terrorists (just because they are Christians) who also break into our church with all kinds of weapons and took the priest hostage and they were going to explode our historical church and some of them had Al-Qaida flags on their heads and some of them were not Syrians. My family is waiting for the great Syrian army to enter the town and clean it from those germs (the terrorists). This is pigs’ revolution and has nothing to do with Democracy and freedom but killing and apply Islamic rules and who ever support those pigs is criminal like them and partner in their crimes against the innocents.
    God bless Syria, Bashar, and great Syrian Army.

    June 8, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Reply
    • ziad

      Assad brainwashed you for real, open your eyes and see who is killing who. if you are a man and believe assad sharmoot sorry bashar is protecting you go to syria and open your smart mouth and say a word against the regime and see and feel what the sunni feel. ( most likely you will be dead and the make it looks like suicide). My advise to the christian stay on the side and don't support anyone but democratic syria and don't create hate from the poor peasants.

      June 8, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Reply
      • george

        I think you didn' t read what i wrote about "My uncles and cousins were kicked out of their homes by those Islamic terrorists (just because they are Christians) who also break into our church with all kinds of weapons and took the priest hostage and they were going to explode our historical church and some of them had Al-Qaida flags on their heads and some of them were not Syrians". So who is better? and you are the blind and need to open your brain and learn how to talk about your president and I believe that your 7amad and S3ood and kardawee and 3ar3oor are evils and going hell wa boa's almaseer.

        June 11, 2012 at 7:47 am |
      • george

        Ziad you said in your comment down (if you stand for the right cause, you will be safe otherwise don't blame fanatics if they turns the gun against you just blame yourself)!!!!. so you admit that your terrorists are using guns to kill who don't agree with them and that is what i m talking about. what happened to the democracy and accepting the others opinions?
        you showed how lairs you are. And just to let you know that your terrorists don't scare me ok kid.

        June 11, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • Michel


      You say "Christians are equal to their Muslim neighbors and have all rights and this only happened during President Hafez Alassad and the great president Bashar Alassad."

      Yes, Christians and Muslims (including, Assyrians, Sunnies, Shiaa, Alawites, Druze, Kurds, ..etc) are equal in being equally oppressed under this sectarian gang of Al Asad family who concentrated the political, financial and military power of the country in their hands and in the hands of some Alawite relatives, friends, loyalist associates. They hijacked the Baath party, the army, the economy, the natural resources and wealth and all aspects of life in Syria and used them to their own advantage.

      In reality under this sectarian regime, a low-ranking military or intelligence services officer from a fringe loyalist group within the Alawite minority may have more influence and power than the Christian Minister of Defnce and the Sunni Prime Minister.

      So why should any person or minority fear the "majority rule" under a true democracy, based on mere speculations of the of what may go wrong in the future, when – in reality now – the majority of Syrians from all walks of life, religions and ethnicities are being oppressed, exploited and held hostages by this small family gang who happens to be a part, but not a true representative, of the Syrian Alawite minority?


      June 8, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Reply
      • Lee

        I respectfully disagree, Michelle. I presume when you make mention of the "hijacking of finances," you're referencing the Assad and Maklouf family. The Maklouf family, who by-the-way, is of the Sunni religious sect. For years, Mustapha Tlas (Sunni) was in power as vice president for years. I think you're referencing Hafez al-Assad's coup de etat of Salah Jadid in the 1970's. Both men were Alawites. But if you really want to delve deeper into the history of the Ba'ath Party, then you must make reference to the founders: Michel Aflaq (Christian), and Salah al-Din al-Bitar (Sunni). There was an internal struggle for power throughout the 1960's for power. What is funny is the mention of sectarianism. This is NOT a sectarian regime. It is a leader from a minority religious denomination that is in power. If you want to make any mention of sectarianism, then point your finger at Lebanon. I am sure one of the thousands of political factions can give you their political rhetoric, and why they're the true representation of the country. The name is Michelle, so I presume you're Christian, and possibly Lebanese or Syrian (I am only assuming because of the French name). I mean no disrespect, but I do not believe what you posted was accurate. If you really wanted to attack the regime, then you must point out Syria's terrible health care system; failed social welfare programs; and failed nationalization of Turkish Dams. Syria has refused for years to utilize dams for electrical power from the Euphrates.

        June 9, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
      • Lee

        Sorry for the difficult read in the beginning. I probably should have gone over it. lol

        June 9, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
      • george

        The problem is not who is ruling the problem which you don’t understand or you might understand but because of your believe you are closing your eyes that this pigs revolution will bring the fundamentals and extremists to power just like Tunisia, Egypt and Libya who doesn’t believe in democracy and don’t accept the others. The good thing that this is not gonna happen in Syria because Dr. Bashar will win this war with the majority and minority support because he is very popular whether you like it or not and the great Syrian army with him and God be with him and the army to clean the country of the germs (The Islamic terrorists).

        June 11, 2012 at 8:29 am |
  9. Syrian***1

    Syria will always be tolerant regardless who rules. Just for your information. Syrians open their doors to Armenians in the 1900s, to Palestinians throughout the past 80 years, to Christian Assyrians from Iraq in 2004, and to shiites from Lebanon in 2006. And No it is not the Syrian government who did that. The Syrian government could not take care of its own citizens even before the crisis, to be able to take care of refugees from other places. From the above, the majority in Syria always accomodated the minorities. This is consistently shown, and this what will come out the current, great, genuine Syrian revolution. Peace on all the souls of the Syrian martyrs, christians and muslims alike.

    June 8, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Reply
    • george

      What comes of this stupid pigs’ revolution is death and destruction. I never heard about revolution consist of terrorists don’t know what is democracy and don’t believe in it. I never heard about revolution kills policemen and military personnel and attack all kinds of government agencies and who ever works for the government. Are those terrorists trying to build the country and open the country or destroy it and take the country 1000 years back. Open your eyes and stop lying to yourself and to the people. God bless Syria Alassad.

      June 8, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Reply
      • GhostCoyote

        From dictionary.com:
        1. an overthrow or repudiation and the thorough replacement of an established government or political system by the people governed.
        2. a radical and pervasive change in society and the social structure, especially one made suddenly and often accompanied by violence.

        While there have been revolutions that have been occurred peacefully, the historical track record is that of violence and death. Seeing as how the police and military of a government are physical representations and manifestations of the government's power and authority it is natural that a rebelling groups anger, frustration, and violence be directed at them. Yes, it can be as simple as an editorial in a newspaper or news site airing grievances against them, but sometimes frustrations run over and violence occurs, sometimes leading to deaths. Violence against a government and its representatives in the community does not negate the legitimacy of the grievances of the protestors or rebels. Violence in response, however, generally serves to reinforce those grievances.

        June 8, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
      • ziad

        you are blinded george not to see the face of Hitler, Saddam, Stalin and many other dicators in Assad's face. they all think the same and kill any one in their paths who dare to stand againgst them. if you stand for the right cause, you will be safe otherwise don't blame fanatics if they turns the gun against you just blame yourself

        June 8, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • IamSyrian

      THis is a flat out lie....every Sunni President came to power prior to assad killed minorities...Why the druze killed the Shishakly ?...because he bomped tthe hell out of the Druze and the Alawee and the christians...he killed thousands just because they are not sunni... and that was the main reason incouraged the mintoriy in syrian to take over the control of the Government because they are sick of been killed for no reason .. and that's why the christian and the Druse and the Kurds and ...every minority in syria support the Alawee...Because to them it is live under the alawee control or die under the Shariaa law

      June 12, 2012 at 10:13 am | Reply
  10. american orthodox christian (OCA)

    I think you are greatly mistaken. CNN is greatly mistaken on what is happening in Syria. You aren't there, so how can you report reliably on what is happening? Where are all the news articles about opposition terrorists killing Christians and making them flee? An Orthodox Priest was shot down by armed terrorists in Jan while he tended to the wounds of a dying man in a street. In Homs, you only hear about government oppression. But what about armed gangs of the opposition forcing Christians to flee from that city or be killed, and some of them were killed:


    Where are those headlines? Here is a headline for you: Armed "Freedom" Fighters force Christians to flee and kill those who don't in Syria. Freedom fighters? No. All they want is to take control. Where are those stories? Where is the non-biasness of CNN? Why aren't both sides of the story told? Why is it one sided? If Assad falls and if the Christian community in Syria is decimated, the blood of the Christian Martyrs will partially be on those in the media who helped perpetuate intervention by American/European powers. Let us remember that it was the violence of protesters who killed police offers that prompted Assad to deploy the military in the first place.

    Here is an American delegation of Christians who was actually allowed into Syria, although it was several months ago before the current bloodshed/massacres:


    June 8, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Reply
    • i_agree

      Well said and so true. So much for unbiased reporting. America, wake up...please people.

      June 8, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Reply
    • diane

      Oh, don't you know? The bias at CNN has polarized the US, put Israel in greater danger, and all but disavowed reporting on faith issues..all to re-elect a man who claims this is not a Christian nation anymore. According to CNN, who cares?

      June 10, 2012 at 1:55 am | Reply
      • IamSyrian

        I agree 100% I visisted Syria and I saw with my own eyes...you are 100% right

        June 12, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  11. tom

    "transforming Syria into an open, democratic, inclusive, secular and religiously tolerant society." when pigs fly!

    June 8, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Reply
  12. cworr

    I certainly hope he's right, but so far, Christians are 0 for three. Iraq, Lebanon, and Egypt all had significant Christian minorities but today, they are repressed, harrassed, and discriminated against in all three. When these populist revolutions occur, they seem to always default to radical Islam. I don't understand how people who have been so repressed and longing for freedom immediately want to repress someone else when they come to power??!!

    June 8, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Reply
  13. DaveL

    Religion is bad for you. WHy don't you understand that it only exists to fund a priest class, which in turn is used to keep the poor from rebelling against the rich?

    Renounce religion, embrace human rights, and live free.

    June 8, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Reply
    • GhostCoyote

      Religion exists to answer the fundamental questions of existence. While science has made strides in determining the origin of lightning, earthquakes, and other natural phenomena, it has yet to answer the "why are we here" question that people yearn for an answer to. Some people refuse to accept the clinical and cold "it was an accident and there is no reason" answer supplied by atheism. Religion can easily, and has been, abused and used to control populations throughout time and across the globe. That doesn't mean religion is inherently evil. It just means that predators recognize and prey on an exploitable population.

      June 8, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Reply
    • Dominick

      The communists free no one. Communism is what you are preaching straight from Karl Marx.

      June 8, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Reply
    • flt

      this is a very naive post.. you dont understand the human mechanism or what religion is

      June 8, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Reply
    • RoboL

      Without God, from whence come human rights?

      June 10, 2012 at 1:24 am | Reply
      • Fubar

        derp from common morals that develop and evolve with the western society?

        November 11, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  14. Odizzeus

    lies lies lies, war war war, is all i hear. It will be much harder to force Americans to fight the bankers wars from now on, Zakaria

    June 8, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Reply
  15. Talibob

    Just wait until the towel heads take over. The Christians all be killed. Such a peaceful religion.

    June 8, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Reply
  16. Dr. Bob

    Just to clearly show the "tolerance" of Bashar Assad and his thugs, please read the following and watch the youtube vid.:



    June 8, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Reply
    • george

      Bob if you are really Dr. Bob you would easily know that This video is a big lie by the terrorists who kill and video tape their crimes and wear army uniform to make stupid people think that the army is killing their own citizens and by knives (Funny). Did anyone hear about army kill their own people and by knives but al-Qaida fighters who usually kill people using knives to cut the innocents bodies to pieces to fed up their bloody desires. If your blind open your eyes but if you are not then this can mean a lot and the question is why you are making the terrorists look like angels. Those terrorists who are killing the innocents in Syria are same terrorists who killed the innocents in the USA sep/ 11.

      June 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Reply
      • GhostCoyote

        I think it is naive to believe that pro-government forces are incapable of attrocities. They may have acted without the willful consent of the regime, and I think it is highly unlikely that Assad himself ordered the killings, they are still responsible for the conduct of their military and police forces, just as the United States is responsible for the conduct of the American soldier that killed all of those Afghan civilians in the night. Your description of the killers as 'terrorists' however is accurate. Its a matter of determining what side the terrorists fight for, is the problem.

        June 8, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
      • J.T

        The UN accused alssasd regime for the massacre in Homs and alassad force were the one who prevented UN observers from go to qpeear where the other massacre happened.

        June 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
      • Andrey

        One of the oldest tricks on Earth.

        June 8, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Derigible

      Dead people dont care about respect.
      They are dead.

      June 8, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Reply
  17. carlyjanew6


    June 8, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Reply
  18. OldMo

    "Inclusive and tolerant"? Ya, there's a lot of that going on in Egypt and Libya and there's sure to be even more once the MB takes over.

    June 8, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Reply
  19. rocklandt






    June 8, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Reply
    • GhostCoyote

      They sell people tap water in bottles and give it a French sounding name. They air shows like Jersey Shore and Whale Wars and call it reality. They listen to spotlight hungry sensationalists like Donald Trump and Al Gore. I'm going to say the burden of proof is on the people to prove that they aren't in fact gullible morons.

      June 8, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Reply
  20. Dominick

    "Christians do know what could happen. In the wake of Saddam Hussein’s downfall, the Christian community in Iraq has more or less been decimated; those who haven’t fled the country are confronted with systematic repression. After the civil war in Lebanon, which Christians are generally perceived to have lost, the Christian community remains on the defensive and is shrinking. And in post-Mubarak Egypt, the Coptic Christians – 10% of the population – remain vigilant about their rights and their security."
    Those are your own words from historical precedent. But like the wife who endures abuse, you actually believe this time will be different. Now. Click your heals together three times and say quietly, ...

    June 8, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Reply
  21. Gopherit

    The revolutions, U.S. invasions, and "Arab Spring" in that part of the precominately – Muslim world have actually meant "Arab Winter" for a large percentage of the area's Christians.

    June 8, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Reply
  22. gerald

    "In the wake of Saddam Hussein’s downfall, the Christian community in Iraq has more or less been decimated; those who haven’t fled the country are confronted with systematic repression"
    Where are the muslum protests over this?

    June 8, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Reply
    • ziad

      Your are hundred percent correct. But that doesn't mean you should stand by Saddam either.

      June 8, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Reply
      • HYDRO

        Gerald did not say anything about standing by Sadam. Your comments is confusing.

        June 9, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  23. Bianca

    This is the most ridiculous afticle ever written. Of course, Chistians will be finished, and all Christianity that was there since Christ will be wiped out. Hillary and her cabal hate Christians. They are the obstacle to creating a simple, religion based dictatoship modelled on Saudi Arabia and Gulf states.
    As for now, I would like to address the writer of this article, who seems determined to be regime soothsayer. First,all the murders are being committed by the very people you are putting your faith into. You know it, and deliberately are not telling the truth. Most of the world knows it, Who has paid the trip of these Sunni fanatics to Kosovo, to confab with former terrorists, Kosovo Liberation Army on the methods of slaughtering their own population in order to frighten them, blame the government, and scream for foreign intervention. I know it , you know it, and the birds in trees know it. We know these masked thugs - heartily suppored by you - have been for months slaughtering civilians, kidnapping, extorting money. They killed postmen, policemen, school principals, teachers, social workers. Now, they are emulating famous Rachak incident, coreographed by KLA in Kosovo, that was the justification for NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. And made sure that their own population has nobody to turn to - nobody to complain. This is what you are doing sir. You are silencing the people of villages and towns where the murders occured, by protecting the murderers. And, sir, you know that the famous Annan plan DEMANDED that army withdraws, and militants move in. Now, we are all accomplices to the killing of poor, innocent people, children and babies.
    Can you comprehend what you are advocating? If you choose to be blind, fine - many of us are going to get informed - in spite of you. Do you know who was one victim in Houla? He was Sunni candidate for the upcoming elections (which we laugh at, of course). When your trusted protegees demanded that he withdraw his candidacy, he and his entire family were killed. Do you really think that truth will remain hidden, as it was once in Rachak. Trying to replicate Kosovo will not work.

    Russia's Partriarch Kiril II has warned international community of the calamity that will befall Christians of Syria. But it will also be calamity for Allawite community, another religious minority. And I will add, sir, it wil be a disaster for majority Sunni community that DOES NOT SUPPORT the thugs. No businessmen has supported them, other then those that have been kidnapped for ransom. No University supports them. No students support them. And Sunni women that today are educated, many of them holding professional careers, and free to live as they wish - would be the first targets of the thugs. So, besides yourself, and our narcissoid politicians - who is supporting them. Do not believe me, ask Ron Paul - who has access to information and wrote about it in an article.

    When will the deception end? Cui bono?

    June 8, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Reply
    • Cheetahe

      You have said so correctly. The so called freedom fighters are nothing else but the future torturers of all non-confirming groups, like Alawites, Christians, Kurds and Sunnis who would be against their theocracy.
      The western plot is to bring chaos to the whole middle east and who cares who will pay the price in this process. The elites care less about the human costs of their policies. Example is Iraq.

      June 8, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Reply
    • deepintobipolar

      You're funny Bianca with your apocalyptic vision of the world, Christian survived the Othman and late Abaseen era in Middle east, which were very dark times considering freedom of religion, and they are still there.. prosperous and happy.

      There's no antidote for radical Islam, but a free civil societies in the middle east.. and the early take off in Tunisia and Egypt, are much much more promising of what was expected.. and I can tell you Syria will even have a bigger step...

      Please stop saying "everybody knows" 137 countries in the UN, condemned Assaad, while 17 country "your everybody" had different opinion about the most recorded minute by minute, and published incident by incident probably in history...

      Revolutionists are not thugs... not in there mass... the syrian regime is a dictatorship-Mafia from upside down....

      June 11, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Reply
  24. Brian fr Langley BC

    What conundrum????? Kick out Asaad's evil secular regime and replace it with a regime that will have significantly more antipathy to Christians than the current regime??? When Assad leaves, killing Christians will follow as sure as night follows day. This isn't surmising or prophecy it's just plain fact. As evil as it is, this is one of those cases where the devil you know is better than the devil you don't. (at least for Christians) As an aside what does this say about Islamic culture today?

    June 8, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Reply
    • deepintobipolar

      Please Brian,
      this is disgraceful, Syrian might well be the one step toward an "enlightenment in the Islamic world"... don't advocate while not knowing the texture of the ME, and the Islamic countries..
      As for christians, we are fine, we have many many clues, that the mass of the most bravest syrians.. are looking for a civil society... please check statistically figures about the activists...

      June 11, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  25. kls817

    I think most people on this post have it right. Assad may be a tyrant, but the bloodshed will be much worse if he is gone.
    People used to be safe in Syria if they just stayed out of Assad's way but in Assad's aftermath they will not be safe if they are religious minorities. This is why I vehemently oppose US intervention in Syria; we would create a civil war just like in Iraq after Hussein was deposed.

    June 8, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Reply
    • ziad

      So KLs you suggest keep the tryant for ever? 30 yrs not enough? for better or worse things have to change, us who are between should at least stay on the side for now, not fair to support the dictator and lets hope for the best. Syria has good sunni peoply and we don't want to stand against them and created hate from them to us.

      June 8, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Reply
  26. PJG

    The sentiment expressed in this article is one of hope and wonderful in its prospects. Our society and others should do all that is possible to realise it. Unfortunately, most of the views expressed here don't support this hope. I can only think that it is because they are as intolerant, biased and theocratic as the Islamic groups they fear. I also believe that the religious here secretly wish for a totalitarian state where their specific views dominate and all are forced into their straight jacket.

    June 8, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Reply
    • Andrey

      The sentiment expressed in this article is one of naivety and is delusional in its prospects. Our society and others do all that is possible to support it. Surprisingly, most of the views expressed here don't support this delusion. I can only thing that it is because they are not liberal, too realistic or theocratic as the Islamic groups they look upon. I also believe that the religious here secretly whish for a peaceful state where liberal views would not dominate and their own believes are not forced into straight jacket.

      June 8, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Reply
    • GhostCoyote

      I would more than happy to welcome a free and democratic Syria where religious tolerance is enshrined in the deepest foundations of the government in society, and I would jump at the chance to help something like that come into existance. In fact, I'd love to see that kind of society here in America too (but we all know bigotry and racism [running in both directions] is the norm). I do not, however have any faith that the person standing next to me on the street feels the same way that I do. Call it intolerance, bias, or theocratic politics if you want, but what it boils down to is that I, through years of observation and experience, have no trust for another human being regardless of color, creed, or faith. I've seen the darkness that lives within the human soul and have come to believe that it is a cornerstone of the human condition. I have met very very few people that have souls as pure as the mask they wear. Putting on your blinders or wishing it away does not solve the problem. It only makes you an accomplice to the evil you turn away from.

      June 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Reply
    • deepintobipolar

      I think Syrians eventually appreciate the help they got from the western democratic world..

      However I have an advice, if you really care about the future of the nations whithin the Islamic world... at least stop nurturing Saudi arabia, and keeping it immune from the critisism it deserves as the "most" dangerous terrorist radical factory...
      helping the good ones, while nurturing the source of the most radical ideologist mid-ages ones is not an efficient plan.

      June 11, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Reply
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