An Italian website that gives voice to the Christian monastic communities in Syria and is a precious source of information on the situation of religion in the context of the current crisis, reveals a growing pressure on the Christian minority, especially in Aleppo. “In the parish of St. Dimitri many Christians find themselves in a state of extreme hunger and destitution: Muslim benefactors are offering Christian families between €600 and €1200 for every member that converts to Islam.”
In Aleppo, a city that is historically tolerant and culturally heterogeneous, fundamentalist rebels are sowing the seeds of the Islamic Emirate of Aleppo and have issued a fatwa against “the immoral habit of allowing women to drive cars.” According to some sources, in Idlib it is compulsory for women to wear the veil, or hijab, in public.
|Heavy Destruction in Aleppo|
Syria and foreign-based Christian websites published a statement made by Fr. Jules Baghdassarian, director of the Pontifical Missionary Works, who died of a cardiac arrest brought on by worry (he dedicated himself heart and soul to charity, providing assistance, finding accommodation for displaced families and organizing aid), anxiety, psycho-physical stress and fatigue.
“There is no civil war in Syria, there are attempts to make it a civil war; there is pressure to turn the conflict into a sectarian conflict; we witnessed this in Lebanon, in Iraq and now in Syria. People do not want war and violence: may the world help us to restore peace!...We ask the international community and the European Union to help us restore peace, not foment war!”
Meanwhile, precise testimonies on the nature of the religious fundamentalism that is starting to characterize the Syrian conflict are being sent from Moscow, where the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change (NCC) arrived today. The “Voice of Russia” correspondent interviewed NCC’s coordinator, Heisam Manaa, who had not been in Syria for that long. “Sadly - Manaa said – Syrian authorities did not give me any safety guarantees. Neither was I able to meet Ban Ki-moon in Beirut. I feel pressure from some sections of the Syrian security forces. But not just from them. As far as I know, radical Islamists don’t like me much either.”
The committee published a list of Saudi mercenaries present in Syria. “We are against the presence of foreign mercenaries…these people destroy Syria. Unfortunately, there are some political “players” such as Turkey which allow them to invade Syria. And Syria is not the only target. We are just a link in the chain.”