Save Syria, Urges Melkite Patriarch of Damascus
23 May 2012 by Doreen Abi Raad
Catholic News Service
BEIRUT (CNS) — Syrias 2.5 million Christians
are being pushed into an exodus from the country out of
fear of chaos and crime, said Melkite Patriarch Gregoire
III Laham of Damascus.
In a report from the Melkite Archdiocese of
Homs, Syria, distributed by the patriarchate, the patriarch
urged the international community to save Syria.
Save Syrias exemplary coexistence of Muslims
and Christians, Patriarch Laham said in the report. To the ones who care, I cry out: ‘Save the presence of the Christians in Syria.
Armed gangs are kidnapping Syrian people and
demanding ransom, according to the report, An
Experience of Current Life in Syria. Ransoms demanded
are typically $20,000 to $40,000 for a Christian and
$1,000 to $5,000 for a Muslim.
The report recounted the May 11 attack on a
Melkite priest in Qara, southeast of Damascus.
Two armed, masked men came into the priests
residence, demanding his keys. He refused, fearing the
intruders would enter the church. The men then tied up the
priest, struck his head and slashed it with a broken glass
One of the attackers said to the priest, We carved
a cross in your head, the report said.
They then beat the priest, tied him to a toilet seat
and began to strangle him with a pipe. Abruptly, the
assailants left, taking the priests keys, computer and phone. The priest freed himself two hours later.
Such an incident was unthinkable only a few
months ago. In Syria, Christians were formerly respected
along with all minorities, the report said.
We see that blind acts of violence are everywhere
and we have nowhere to take refuge. The mutilations,
bombings, and threats have a psychological aim: to bring
the population to its knees. At every moment we are in
total insecurity, it said.
Today in Syria we can no longer speak of a
government-opposition division. There is a third element:
the criminals who roam freely, taking advantage of the
situation. They hide behind the opposition and they
exploit both the lack of armed forces and the absence of
The report quoted Patriarch Laham as saying:
The Syria is tied up and swept away by the international politics. Without any serious investigation, they claim the government perpetrates massacres and bombs civilians. Meanwhile, the barbarous acts by the insurgents pass by without a word.
There is a legitimate government who must
govern, the patriarch said. If it is destroyed, there will be nothing to replace it. Unfortunately, we see that the international community aims to make the situation worse, divide Syria and provoke conflict. By arming and
supporting forces that are out of control we are pushing
the country towards more violence, terror and bloodshed.
I address the international community: save
Syria, he said.
Tags: Syria Middle East Christians Middle East Melkite Patriarch Gregoire III Laham of Damascus Arab Spring/Awakening