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. Joan

    The article didn't mention Jews. There were Jews in Syria – once. It would seem, from this article, that there are none there now. Certainly none that can be counted.

    June 9, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Reply
    • Joseph

      Btw, yes, there are still Jews in Syria and they live freely (like the Christians) and can practice their religion and they are very successful business men and women. Syria is a secular state that guarantees rights of all, unlike the gulf states who do not tolerate non Muslim minorities or women.

      June 10, 2012 at 1:36 am | Reply
    • Charles

      Hating Jews is rooted in the Koran and part of Islam from the very start: http://bit.ly/bcy7m8
      Muhammad massacred many.
      Christians are not regarded much better. Hardly a "religion of peace".

      June 10, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Reply
  2. gary

    god=pretend, religion=delusion, myth, ancient folklore

    June 9, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Reply
  3. AlFetah

    CNN LOVES THESE ARTICLES BECAUSE THEY WANT EVERY SYRIAN TO JOIN THEIR WAR AGAINST INDEPENDENT WESTERN-FREE SYRIA. SINCE THE REGIME IS SUPPORTED BY MANY SYRIANS, THEIR MASTERS CAN'T BRING IT DOWN AND REPLACE IT WITH A WESTERN PUPPET. IF ASSAD IS REPLACE, WE MUST MAKE SURE THAT IT IS NOT A US OR WESTERN PUPPET, THE TYPE THAT CNN AND THEIR MASTERS WOULD LIKE TO HAVE.

    June 9, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Reply
  4. Total2199

    Mr. Zakaria is a Muslim provocateur, never trust the guy.

    June 9, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Reply
  5. Michael

    The will of Christian or moderate Muslims will be lost among the "jihad" brought in by outside sources. Iran will not allow a pro-west/democratic government to take hold in Syria. They will agitate/ship in weapons/ and kill whomever they need to too prevent this from happening.

    June 9, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Reply
  6. Roberto Murray

    NATO should invade Syria and drive out all the Sunnis and Shias into Iraq and turn the country over to the Druze, Kurds, and Christians...everything would be fine then...

    June 10, 2012 at 12:10 am | Reply
  7. kracker

    The "rebels" are the same ones who go by the name of Al Qaeda and chop off peoples heads; who go by the name of AQAP & use women from mental facilities to do their suicide bombings; who go by the name of govt of Saudi Arabia and ruthlessly beat immigrant workers in their country and kill anyone protesting their regime. The Christians of Syria are damn right in not siding with the rebels.

    June 10, 2012 at 12:35 am | Reply
  8. Joseph

    This article is a waste of a time. As a Christian syrian American, I have absolutely no faith in the so called rebels. These people are terrorists with fundamentalist Islamic beliefs ( like the Saudis) and like the al Qaeda terrorist. They do not represent us Christians in any way. That is why the Christians in the country are against what these terrorists are doing. What is happening in Syria is terrorists being supported by the west and gulf states to topple the regime and weaken the country, and that is another reason Christians and any true Syrian regardless of religion does not support this so called uprising. The coverage of western media and Arab media has been absolute propaganda and completely biased. These media outlets including CNN ought to be ashamed of themselves.

    June 10, 2012 at 1:31 am | Reply
  9. Suleiman the Magnificent

    Allah is the Greatest!

    Praise and glory be to You, O Allah.
    Blessed be Your Name, exalted be Your Majesty and Glory.
    There is no god but You.

    I seek Allah's shelter from Satan, the condemned.

    In the Name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful.

    Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Universe,
    the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful!
    Master of the Day for Judgment!
    You alone do we worship and You alone do we call on for help.
    Guide us along the Straight Path,
    The path of those whom You have favored,
    Not the path of those who earned Your anger, nor of those who went astray. Amen.

    (Recitation of an additional Chapter of the Holy Qur'an)

    Glorified is my Lord, the Great.

    Allah listens to those who praise Him.

    Our Lord, praise be for You only.

    Glorified is my Lord, the Exalted.

    O my Lord, forgive me and have Mercy on me.

    June 10, 2012 at 8:21 am | Reply
    • Suleiman the Magnificent

      How similar to Christian and Jewish prayers and still the hate goes on.

      June 10, 2012 at 8:23 am | Reply
  10. Checedu

    On September 25, 2002, a group of armed Muslims in Karachi, Pakistan entered the office of a Christian charity, tied seven workers to chairs and then brutally murdered them. According to Muslim witnesses, the Islamists "showed no haste. They took a good 15 minutes in segregating the Christians and making sure that each one of their targets received the most horrific death."

    The killing of non-Muslim humanitarian workers by devout followers of Islam occurs quite often. The executions are not usually celebrated by Muslims, but there is rarely if any outrage expressed over slaughter in the name of Islam by a community renowned for its peevishness.

    June 10, 2012 at 9:29 am | Reply
  11. Pelee

    Islam is a horrible, hate filled intolerant religion. I have yet to see ANY evidence that shows them being peace loving! Just look when the mohammed cartoon came out! Normal peace loving muslims shouting anti Israeli and US chants, even though we had nothing to do with the cartoon, and burning down buildings! Over a fricken CARTOON no less!

    June 10, 2012 at 9:33 am | Reply
  12. Ben

    I don't hate Muslims. I dislike the members of their religion that are using it as an excuse to engage in terrorism. I don't understand why those who don't support the terrorism, don't stand up against it. FEAR? I can't believe that almost all of the others are that scared of the crazies. I think that the lack of a loud, and VERY public stand against the violence is the reason for the hatred of Muslims that you seem to be experiencing.

    June 10, 2012 at 9:35 am | Reply
  13. express

    Why is Islam the most hated religion in the world?
    They teach hate. They teach death. They teach kill. They teach slavery...They teach death to America/Americans.

    I have a hard time being sympathetic. Muslims have not attempted to separate themselves from Islamic radicals. American Muslims have done nothing but make more demands for special treatment and claim they are peaceful people.

    Read a few books about what is taught in Islamic countries and among Muslims in the US. It is far from peaceful.

    June 10, 2012 at 9:37 am | Reply
  14. fore

    islam is a curse on this world....they only know how to start fights(n lose them)..islam is a voilent n non sense religion from the CORE. how many hindu or christian terrorists have u heard of? there r a few in every religion, bound to be...but islam produces terrorists! they have voilence even in their food...barbaric bloody religion. islam is a barbaric religion, no doubt. muslims always try to prove something by attacking people n buildings....the only thing they have proved till now is that they r worthless n not needed in this world

    June 10, 2012 at 9:40 am | Reply
  15. Nina

    It is not Islam which is hated but the people who are is interpreting the teachings of Islam are hated.They think that the ruthless way to dominate this world their elders used long time ago can be successful again.

    June 10, 2012 at 9:46 am | Reply
  16. abrege

    The Koran is a book of hate. Islam is an ideology of hate. There are thousands of verses and sayings urging Muslims to kill the infidels and take control of the Infidel lands. They are in every chapter of the Qur'an, not isolated to one section. In fact, those few verses that are promoted by Taqiyyamaster (Muslim elitists, often Middle East Studies professors and Muslim imams or mullahs, who lie and deceive the Infidel regarding Islam and its true meaning) as 'tolerant' are abrograted (made invalid and no longer true to Muslims) by later verses. It is easy to deceive the Infidels since so few bother to research Islam or read the Qur'an, the Hadiths, or the history of jihad.

    June 10, 2012 at 9:50 am | Reply
  17. Daily

    CAIR, and many other Islamic organizations recently backed a fatwa against terror. They say that Islam condemns violence against innocent lives and civilians. But that’s not true at all. Infidels are never innocent in war, and we are at war.

    “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Qur’an should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth”

    –Omar Ahmed, Chairman of the Board of CAIR (Council of American Islamic Relations), San Ramon Valley Herald, July 1998

    June 10, 2012 at 9:55 am | Reply
  18. Daily

    Here is just a sample of Mohammad’s revelations:

    Everything Those Infidels Have Everywhere In the World Already Belongs to the Muslims, Take It

    Qur’an 33.27 And He made you heirs to their land and their dwellings and their property, and (to) a land which you have not yet trodden, and Allah has power over all things.

    Qur’an 21:44 Do they see Us advancing, gradually reducing the land (in their control), curtailing its borders on all sides? It is they who will be overcome. NOTE: Political Correctness and Multiculturalism has proven to be the most powerful weapon for the advancement of Dar al-Islam since 1945.

    About Those Annoying Non-Believers (Infidels, Pagans, Jews, Christians, etc.)

    Qur’an 9:123 “murder them and treat them harshly”
    Qur’an 3.28 Let not the believers take the unbelievers for friends rather than believers; and whoever does this, he shall have nothing of (the guardianship of) Allah, but you should guard yourselves against them, guarding carefully; and Allah makes you cautious of (retribution from) Himself; and to Allah is the eventual coming.
    NOTE: By ‘guarding carefully’, a Muslim should deceive the infidel. Acting as a friend is fine as long as it is to benefit the Muslim and protect Islam.

    Qur’an 3:56 “As for those disbelieving infidels, I will punish them with a terrible agony in this world and the next. They have no one to help or save them.”

    Qur’an 4.89 They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be (all) alike; therefore take not from among them friends until they fly (their homes) in Allah’s way; but if they turn back, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper.

    June 10, 2012 at 9:57 am | Reply
  19. Pinkflam

    Zbigniew Brzezinski is one of the few American geopolitical thinkers to provide a wise, sober, and honest assessment of the conflict in Syria and the hidden forces at work behind the scenes. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe program on May 30, 2012, Brzezinski cautioned that America should not react with emotion to what is going on in Syria. He said that there is no sign of a widespread national uprising against the Syrian government, and that isolating Russia because of its stance on the Syrian crisis is impossible.

    The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a press conference in Moscow on Saturday, June 9, that Russia will not support a military intervention in Syria. The delusional and dishonest Western media will spin his remarks as a blanket endorsement of the Assad government.

    INFOWARS - because even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while

    June 10, 2012 at 10:50 am | Reply
  20. Millie

    When a single Muslim-controlled Middle East/ African country actually has a democracy which practices religious tolerance, then I will support the idea of a new Syrian regime. Until then, I know that Christians are better off under the control of an Alawite dictator than a Sunni or Shia dictator. The British tried to get the Egyptians to have elections in the 1920s. Why is Egypt not a democracy? Because Egyptians don't want democracy. Why should the West take on the political responsibility of yet another problematic Muslim country? When they themselves want a fair and free government, they can get one all by themselves. They have plenty of examples to follow.

    June 10, 2012 at 11:12 am | Reply
  21. Charles

    The Christians of Syria know their Muslims there and they are right that an Islamic government will be very intolerant :

    "Announcement from minarets in Syrian city: "Christians must leave Qusayr within six days" -http://bit.ly/Le6THu

    June 10, 2012 at 11:40 am | Reply
  22. Ben

    The only "conundrum" is which western country will take the only remaining Syrian/marionite Christians left from when the Muslims conquered the region (yes, these people were Christian before the Muslim conquest and are not from the Crusade as the Arabs lie) after the Islamists take power and start murdering them.

    June 10, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Reply
  23. Ben

    After Egypt broke with Russia in the early 80s and Iraq was broken from Russia in the last decade plus, Syria is Russia's only remaining client state (Bathists are essentially based on Stalinists). Russia will hold on here like grim death.

    June 10, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Reply
  24. sceptic77

    I do not know why the christians are worried. Christian communities have been peacefully lived in Saudi Arabia and much of the middle east by converting to Islam. Christians can hold on to majority of their beliefs after converting to Islam. There is enough commonality between the religions that it should be easy for christians to convert and secure equlity

    June 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Reply
    • ZouZie

      Saudi converts to Christianity face the death penalty if discovered; executions are definitely known to occur. In August 2008, a young Saudi woman in Buraydah was killed by her brother, a Muslim cleric and religious police member of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, after she proclaimed her Christian faith to her family. Saudi authorities arrested a 28-year-old Christian man in January 2009 for describing his conversion from Islam and criticizing the kingdom’s judiciary on his blog. On January 1, 2011, new regulations went into effect, requiring all Saudi news blogs and electronic news sites to be strictly licensed, to “include the call to the religion of Islam” and to strictly abide by Islamic Shariah law. The requirements are being coupled with strict restrictions on what topics Saudi bloggers can write on—a development which will essentially give Saudi authorities the right to shut down blogs at their discretion

      June 10, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Reply
    • ZouZie

      Muslim social network users are calling for the arrest and even for the death of a Saudi Arabian Christian convert they say has insulted the Muslim prophet Muhammad via Twitter.

      Hamoud Bin Saleh, who has been imprisoned three times in eight years, was first arrested for "attacks against Islam" in 2004 and spent nine months in jail after blogging about his conversion from Islam to Christianity. In 2008, he was again arrested after writing about religious matters and his conversion. He was detained for a month and during that time he was tortured with sleep deprivation, solitary confinement and physical and psychological abuse. His most recent arrest was in 2009. He was released on the condition that he not travel outside the country or appear in the media

      June 10, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Reply
    • ZouZie

      Two Indian Christians - Vasantha Sekhar Vara, 28, and Nese Yohan, 31 - have been released from prison in Saudi Arabia. They were arrested and charged with proselytizing in January 2011 after officials raided their house church of mainly Indian expat workers.Vara was pressured to convert to Islam in prison, but he refused. The men were deported to India on July 24, 2011.

      Saudi Arabia is officially 100 percent Muslim as per the Mutawa. However, as in other Arabic countries, there have been reports of a growing interest in Christianity and many foreigners in the country are Christian.

      June 10, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Reply
  25. Mohammad

    If the Muslims were slaughtering Christians all of these years in the rate that some are advocating 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 and the British colonization 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 and someone can post a a repulsive clip like Simon below to advance their cause but these people are rejected by large and there is a big question mark on who really stands behind them. 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 2:18 pm | Reply
  26. ZouZie

    The Osmanli or Ottoman Turks emerged as a force in the 14th century, replacing the previous Seljuk Turkish Emirate of Konya. They were '...fanatical Moslems... Their clan leaders called themselves Ghazis, warriors for the faith of Islam. Conquest of the infidel was for them a religious duty. Hence, jihad by the Ottomans was as much offensive in character as defensive, and their belief was that non-Muslims should be subjugated by the sword. In 1354 they occupied Gallipoli, and then spread across the Balkans, defeating the Serbs at the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, and completing the conquest of Bulgaria and Thessaly by 1393. This meant that the capital of the Byzantine Empire (or what little was left of it), Constantinople, was now isolated. 'Close the gates of the city' said the Sultan to Byzantine Emperor Manuel II (1391-1425), 'for I own everything outside.

    June 10, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Reply
    • ZouZie

      By then it was only a matter of time before Constantinople was attacked, and under the energetic and ruthless Sultan Mehmet II, the Ottomans began the siege of the Byzantine capital in April 1453 – this despite the fact that at his accession to the Sultanate in 1451, he had sworn on the Qur'an to the Byzantine embassy that he would respect the latter's territorial integrity. Obviously, an oath to an infidel meant nothing. There is no way that the siege of Constantinople could be classified as 'defensive' jihad: rather, it was an unprovoked act of aggression. Hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned, the city fell on Monday 28 May 1453. It should be noted that on 6 April Mehmet II had sent Emperor Constantine XI a message, the terms of which the latter declined, 'declaring that, as Islamic law prescribed, every citizen would be spared if the city would surrender without resistance. The implication was clear: if the city resisted, the lives of its residents would be forfeit.

      June 10, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Reply
  27. Maya

    Isn't it funny how many of the Christian groups in our country are trying their hardest to make our own society LESS inclusive, secular, and tolerant?

    June 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Reply
  28. azimlooker

    Why doesn't anyone get it? "Democracy" in the Middle East will mean a fundamentalist massacre of all opposing sects, simply because the majority of the population are followers of Sunnist political Islam. "Democracy" is not the name of a good gentlemanly football team. Democracy is rule by the brainwashed ignorant majority who will do everything they can to destroy every other religious grouping, whether Christian, Druze, or Alawite. A careful formula in Lebanon of power division , and the establishment of the 10% Alawite minority in Syria as a balance between much stronger religious groups has prevented a bloodbath...so far. Muslims of this stamp do not seek compromise, are not tolerant, but militantly intent on extending the "peace of Islam" by force on the entire world. They have no respect whatsoever for other religions. Doesn't anyone realise that there isn't even one single appearance of the word "Love" in the whole Qur'an?

    June 10, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Reply
  29. krm1007

    NEW, MORE DANGEROUS HINDU EXTREMIST GROUPS EMERGE IN INDIA WHO ARE ANTI_ CHRISTIAN.

    Christians concerned as rightwing factions splinter to form militant outfits.

    PUNE, India, October 29 (CDN) — After more than a decade of severe persecution, India’s Christian minority is growing increasingly concerned over the mushrooming of newer and deadlier Hindu extremist groups.

    Gone are the days when Christians had to watch out only for the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) and its youth wing, Bajrang Dal, which are closely linked with the most influential Hindu extremist umbrella organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). With voter support faltering for the RSS’s political wing, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), moderate and extremist sections within the Hindu nationalist movement are blaming each other, and militant splinter groups have emerged.

    Claiming to be breakaway factions of the RSS, new groups with even more extreme ideology are surfacing. The Abhinav Bharat (Pride of India), the Rashtriya Jagran Manch (National Revival Forum), the Sri Ram Sene (Army of god Rama), the Hindu Dharam Sena (Army for Hindu Religion) and the Sanatan Sanstha (Eternal Organization) have launched numerous violent attacks on Christian and Muslim minorities.

    June 10, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Reply
  30. krm1007

    The Sri Ram Sene was one of the most active groups that launched a series of attacks on Christians and their property in and around Mangalore city in the southern state of Karnataka in August-September 2008, according to a report, “The Ugly Face of Sangh Parivar,” published by the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), in March 2009. In Jabalpur city in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, suspected extremists from the Abhinav Bharat attacked the Rhema Gospel Church on Sept. 28, according to the Global Council of Indian Christians. They had earlier attacked Pastor Sam Oommen and his family in the same city on Aug. 3.

    The Hindu Dharam Sena has become especially terrifying for Christians in Jabalpur. Between 2006 and 2008, Jabalpur was plagued by at least three anti-Christian attacks every month, according to The Caravan magazine. In the western state of Gujarat and other parts of the country, the Rashtriya Jagran Manch has also violently attacked Christians, according to news website Counter Currents.

    June 10, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Reply
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