Nun Condemns Violence in Syria
A man carries the lifeless body of a boy following an air strike by Syrian forces in Azaz, 29 miles north of Aleppo, Syria, 15 Aug. Estimates of the number of people killed range as high as 28,000 since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011. More than a million people have been forced to leave their homes because of the violence. (Photo: CNS/Goran Tomasevic, Reuters)
17 Aug 2012 By Sarah MacDonald
DUBLIN (CNS) — A Carmelite nun said the
armed insurrection in Syria is “producing a totalitarianism that is worse” than that of Bashar Assad’s regime.
Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross, superior of
the community at the monastery of St. James the
Mutilated in Qara, Syria, also appealed to the international
community to stop supporting violent militias linked to al-
Qaida and other extremist groups guilty of atrocities
against innocent Syrian civilians.
“We know now that those people are not fighting
for freedom, they are fighting for their values, and those
values are not even those of moderate Islam, they are
fundamentalist,” the Lebanese-born nun said.
“What has really scandalized us and leaves us in
distress is that the Western world seems to be encouraging
this rise of sectarian violence just to topple the (Assad)
regime,” she said.
Mother Agnes Mariam, spokeswoman for the
Catholic Media Center of the Melkite Catholic
Archdiocese of Homs, said the insurgents were targeting
religious minorities and executing moderate Sunnis such
as journalists, researchers, doctors and engineers to
pressure their families and communities into supporting an
Islamist state. She claimed they were “destroying the
delicate religious and ethnic balance” in Syria.
“You don’t know when it will be your turn to be considered a collaborator,” she explained of the arbitrary abductions, beheadings and killings being carried out as part of a campaign of terror by the insurgents against those they claim are working for the Assad regime. “It is a life of fear and insecurity.”
She described the international community’s
public utterances in support of peace as “paradoxical” in
view of the financial support recently pledged by Britain
and the United States to the insurgents, whom she warned
are “paralyzing civilian life.” The Sunni Muslim rebels are
also backed by Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar
“This money will be used for weapons which will
increase the violence,” Mother Agnes Mariam told
Catholic News Service in Dublin in mid-August after a
meeting with the papal nuncio, Archbishop Charles
Brown, and with representatives of the Irish bishops'
justice and peace council.
On Aug. 15, a panel of U.N. experts based in
Geneva concluded that government forces and pro-
government militias as well as armed insurgents had
committed war crimes in the Syrian conflict between Feb.
15 and July 20. However, only the panel’s chairman was
allowed to enter Syria to conduct interviews; other
panelists were denied access.
Tags: Syria Middle East Christians Middle East Arab Spring Carmelite Sisters