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ASIA/SYRIA - "Living as a Christian in the hell of Aleppo": the testimony of a priest
Aleppo (Agenzia Fides) - Christians in Aleppo are victims of death and destruction due to the fighting which for months, has been affecting the city. The Christian neighborhoods, in recent times, have been hit by rebel forces fighting against the regular army and this has caused an exodus of civilians. This is what a greek catholic priest in Aleppo says in a heartfelt message sent to Fides, and Fides prefers to guarantee anonymity for security reasons.
The message, titled "Living as a Christian in the hell of Aleppo," explains: "For a long time the Christians of Aleppo have been living in neighborhoods close to each other: Sulaymaniyah, Aziziyah, Villas, Telefon Hawaii, Al Jabiriyah, Al Maydan, Al Surian , Al Tilal. These areas are currently under the control of the regular Syrian army, while neighboring areas are occupied by the opposition army. That is why our neighborhoods are daily objects of bombings and shootings by snipers among the rebels. The bombings are sometimes blind, without a purpose, and this causes severe damage to homes, or innocent victims such as bystanders."
The priest gave Fides the lists of the latest victims in the community: "Our latest martyrs are Fadi Samir Haddad, Elias Abdel Nour, Nichan Vartanian, Vartan Karbedjian, Maria Fahmeh and the young Joëlle Fahmeh, all innocent victims." He then goes on to explianing the damage to the structures: "the greek catholic Archbishopric in Tilal was severly damaged, injuring Fr.Imad Daher. The church of San Michele Arcangelo and an important monastery of nuns in Aziziyya were also damaged; a pastoral building of the greek-catholic community, called "The Hope" was hit, killing three people and causing dozens of casualties among the civilian population ". Even the convent of the Franciscan fathers in Sulaymaniyah was hit.
Meanwhile, the text continues, "bombs continue to fall on the area of Almidan, of Armenian majority, launched by armed opposition groups which is located in Bustan el-Bacha: they have killed several people, injured so many and destroyed many houses ". Some groups in the rugged opposition, where there are also jiahadisti groups, "fire on Christian houses and buildings, to force occupants to escape and then take possession " the text concludes. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 19/10/2012)
ORTHODOX PRIEST KIDNAPPED IN DAMASCUS FOUND DEAD
The body of the greek orthodox priest Fr. Fadi Jamil Haddad, pastor of the church of St. Elias in Qatana, was found today in the Jaramana neighborhood (north of Damascus) not far from the place where he was kidnapped, on October 19, by unidentified armed group (see Fides 24/10/2012). This was confirmed to Fides by Fr. Haddad’s greek-orthodox confrere, who asked for anonymity. “His body was horribly tortured and his eyes gouged out,” he told Fides. “It is a purely terrorist act. Fr. Haddad is a martyr of our church.”
With regards to the responsibilities of the terrible act there is an ongoing rebound of responsibilities between the opposition forces and government authorities, that accuse the armed gangs of armed rebellion in the army. According to Fides sources, the kidnappers had asked the priest’s family and his church a ransom of 50 million Syrian pounds (over 550 thousand euro). It was, however, impossible to find the money and meet this exorbitant demand. A source of Fides condemns “the terrible practice, present for months in this dirty war, of kidnapping and then killing innocent civilians.”
Among the various Christian communities in Syria, the greek orthodox is the largest (with about 500 thousand faithful) and is concentrated mainly in the western part of the country and in Damascus.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 25/10/2012)
Terrorists Assassinate Pastor of Mar Elias Church in Qatana, Damascus
Oct 25, 2012
DAMASCUS, (SANA)- Terrorists have assassinated Pastor of Mar Elias Church for Roman Orthodox in Qatana town in Damascus after days of abduction.
A source at the Roman Orthodox Patriarchate in Damascus on Thursday said the body of Father Fadi Haddad was found near Drousha area on Damascus-Quneitra highway, sustaining a gunshot wound to the head.
The source noted that the terrorists kidnapped Father Haddad last Thursday in Artouz town while he was seeking the release of a kidnapped person from the hands of terrorists.
Igor Antunov wrote:Rinse and repeat
Croatian General Marinko Krešić confirmed that there are between 80 and 100 Croat mercenaries between the ages of 40 and 60 helping the Free Syrian Army. They are veterans from the Croatian War of Independence (1991-95) or Bosnian War (1992-95), but also fought as mercenaries in Iraqi War (2003-11), Libyan civil war, Tunisian revolution and Egyptian revolution. Krešić stated that some are serving as security, instructors while others are killing. He also stated that they are very well trained and that "they are the one who will probably kill rather then be killed". Krešić stated that their payment is up to 2,000 US$ a day due to "rich foreign donators". He also added that the majority of the volunteers coming from the Balkans to help the FSA are Serbs and citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sources close to the Belgrade military circles confrimed that the former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army are also aiding the FSA. They are mostly instructors who train the rebels mostly for the urban and the guerrilla warfare.
There are dozens of Kuwait's volunteers entering from Turkey that are fighting in ranks of the FSA. The volunteers are given Syrian IDs as a precautionary measure in case they are arrested, before they are armed and sent to fight in different locations across the troubled country.
The TET offensive was great military victory for the US, but it was one of the final nails in the coffin for continued US involvement in the country.
The TET offensive was great military victory for the US, but it was one of the final nails in the coffin for continued US involvement in the country.
Map of places in Syria with significant Christian populations.
Saidnaya convent at night.
Christians spread throughout Syria and they are a majority in some provinces; important areas are
Aleppo, where the largest Armenian population resides.
Damascus contains a sizable Christian community.
Homs, which has the second largest Christian population known, especially in the nearby Valley of Christians, a popular tourism site close to the Crac des Chevaliers;
and Al-Hasakah, which has a large ethnic Assyrian/Syriac population.
Syria: Christian community faces another northern Cyprus, Iraq and Kosovo
Helmut Joachim Schmidt and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Northern Cyprus, Iraq, Kosovo and now Syria all have one binding feature and that is the collapse of Christianity always follows in the wake of Western meddling. It appears that the policy of Saudi Arabia, which does not tolerate one non-Muslim place of worship, is being enacted by elites in London and Washington when it comes to their respective foreign policy. Despite this, the vast majority of churches in the West either remain silent, or they have accepted that the Christian faith is in decline and not worth defending.
Throughout Africa, Asia, Europe and North America, nations like Saudi Arabia are intent on spreading a conservative version of Islam which seeks no compromise. Yet political elites in these nations are not demanding that Saudi Arabia and other draconian nations, open up to other non-Muslim faiths and other sects within Islam. It is a clear win-win policy for Saudi Arabia. Therefore, religious and political elites in Riyadh must be laughing at such a spineless international community, which is working in collusion with the most draconian nation on this planet.
It must be pointed out that moderate Islam and non-Muslims are bearing the hatred of radical Sunni Islam, which seeks a monoculture and to destroy moderate forces. In Turkey the Alevi suffer persecution, in Pakistan and Indonesia the Ahmadiyya Muslim community suffers greatly and many Shia Muslims are killed in Pakistan. When moderate Sunni Muslim voices challenge the Sunni Islamist inquisition, then they are also put in the firing line. Likewise, in Libya and northern Mali the Sufi faith is under threat from Islamists, which have been destroying Sufi shrines and other areas related to this branch of Islam. Even moderate versions of Islam in Pakistan within various Sunni branches are being influenced by the harbingers of hatred.
Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus referred to the fact that the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria stands by all minorities and the various Christian communities. The thought of the FSA emerging victorious along with various different Islamist terrorist groups is certainly creating fear and panic to the Archbishop of Cyprus. He commented about the plight of Christians within the Middle East and stated that “certainly Christianity is in danger, especially in Syria.”
This comment would have been laughed at in early 2011 because under the government of Bashar al-Assad the Christian community and all faith groups had hope. Likewise, women never had to worry about what the future held for them under an Islamist state like Saudi Arabia, where women are forbidden to drive and to dress how they like. However, once nations like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey saw an opening in Syria and had the support of America, France and the United Kingdom; then political elites in Ankara, Doha and Riyadh decided to embark on supporting sectarianism, terrorism and spreading Salafi ideology. They did this with the full backing of elites in Washington, London and Paris but while America and the United Kingdom appear to be cooling – the same destabilization policies are continuing.
In Kosovo it was stated by Modern Tokyo Times that “The Turks could never destroy the ‘spirit and soul’ of the Orthodox Christian community in Kosovo despite the enslavement of young Christian boys being converted to Islam, dhimmitude, wars, heavy taxation and other factors. Fascism also couldn’t destroy this community during World War Two. However, the American political leadership and British political leadership laid down the foundations for the destruction of this embattled community.”
Therefore, whenever London and Washington weave their geopolitical games in the Balkans and the Middle East, the end result is always the same. This applies to the weakening of all minority faiths and clearly the Christians, Alawites, the Shia and other communities like the Druze, have much to fear in Syria if the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and outside meddling overthrows the government of Syria. Indeed, mainstream Sunni Muslim religious leaders like the Grand Mufti of Syria also have much to fear. After all, just like Sufi shrines are now being destroyed in Libya, the same Islamists will also try to destroy liberal Sunni Islamic values in Syria.
The Russian Federation understands the reality of Islamism and terrorism because many parts of the Caucasus face serious problems. In other parts of this nation like in Tatarstan, the Sufi leadership also faces death and hatred by Islamists just like in Dagestan in the Caucasus region. The heart and soul of Islam is being challenged by Islamists in many parts of the world. Therefore, even when Muslims are small minorities, it is clear that Islamists seek to fill any vacuum open to them in order to spread divisions and sow the seeds of hatred.
In Iraq vast numbers of people fled the carnage which followed the American led invasion. The percentage of Christians which left Iraq was enormous and now the same fate awaits them in Syria. Therefore, within parts of the Balkans and the Middle East the same geopolitical policies of Washington and London keep on helping to cleanse the various Christian communities. It also matters not if during war or during so-called peacetime because the ongoing destruction of Orthodox Christianity continues in northern Cyprus and Kosovo. Indeed, many Orthodox Christians have been killed by the mainly Muslim Albanians in Kosovo since the ending of the conflict. Yet, and this is important, how many Kosovo Albanians are in prison for killing Orthodox Christians during peacetime in Kosovo?
Syria under the current leader, Bashar al-Assad, not only protects all faith groups but this nation under his leadership took in millions of refugees from several nations within the Middle East. Many of these refugees came from Iraq because of terrorism and sectarianism which was unleashed after the US led invasion of this nation. During this crisis the elites in Damascus welcomed refugees irrespective of faith. Therefore, vast numbers of Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, Christians and other faith communities were given sanctuary in Syria.
However, this nation is now being destabilized by many outside nations which desire to alter the religious and political map of the Middle East. Christians, and all Syrians who support the mosaic of this nation, have much to fear given the reality of what happened in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Kosovo.
Bishop Antoine Audo stated about his beloved Syria that “In the city of Homs, home to what was the country’s second-largest Christian community, all but a few of the faithful were forced to leave after a wave of persecution — all the churches desecrated.”
Bishop Antoine Audo also states that “If Christians in my country were reduced to a token few; it would be disastrous because, until now, ours has been one of the last remaining strong Christian centers in the whole of the Middle East.”
The Christian community was forced to flee the barbarity of the FSA and various different Islamist terrorist groups which have been supported by America, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Qatar and France. Likewise, Christian churches, just like in Kosovo and northern Cyprus, have been destroyed by the friends of Washington. Therefore, the Christian community relies on the power of the armed forces of Syria to repulse the various terrorist, mercenary and seditious movements.
Recently a leading cleric from Saudi Arabia called for the destruction of churches throughout Arabia. Given the political elites in Washington, London and Paris, and remembering past history; then this cleric may soon get his wish in Syria if the FSA and Islamists win the day?
The forces which support the mosaic of Syria are based throughout the government of this nation. Likewise, all leading religious figures in Syria irrespective of faith are adamant that outside meddling must stop. It is time to listen to people on the ground and whose voices have been marginalized by the mass media. Syria needs breathing space in order to solve their own situation through the institutions which exist and to expand on areas which favor the majority of Syrians. Therefore, it is essential that outside nations stop supporting religious cleansing, terrorism, sectarianism and sedition.
Addendum: (3:30 pm EST) Government tanks were moved into Faisal street, the main thurowfair running the length of al-Syriaan al-Jadide and Qadime. Rebel troops made a tactical retreat back into the Kurdish neighborhood of Ashrafiyya.
Despite this, the vast majority of churches in the West either remain silent, or they have accepted that the Christian faith is in decline and not worth defending.The catch is that it's not their Christian faith that's in decline in the middle east, it's eastern & oriental orthodox christian faith that's in decline there, those are all heretics and Russia-worshipers anyway. The West can live with that.
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