Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

The Fate of Syria’s Christians

March 19, 2012 11:41 am 0 comments

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Photo: wiki commons.

What is the alternative to Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria? Just consider which groups in Syria are especially for or against Assad—and why.

Christian minorities, who, as 10% of the Syrian population, have the most to gain from a secular government and the most to suffer from a state run by Islamic Sharia law, have no choice but to prefer Assad. They are already seeing aspects of the alternative. A recent Barnabas Fund report, “Christians in Syria Targeted in Series of Kidnappings and Killings; 100 Dead,” tells how “children were being especially targeted by the kidnappers, who, if they do not receive the ransom demanded, kill the victim.” In one instance, kidnappers videotaped a Christian boy as they murdered him in an attempt to frame the government; one man “was cut into pieces and thrown in a river” and another “was found hanged with numerous injuries.”

Accordingly, it is understandable that, as an earlier report put it, “Christians have mostly stayed away from the protests in Syria, having been well treated and afforded a considerable amount of religious freedom under President Assad’s regime.” After all, “Should Assad fall, it is feared that Syria could go the way of Iraq, post-Saddam Hussein. Saddam, like Assad, restrained the influence of militant Islamists, but after his fall they were free to wreak havoc on the Christian community; hundreds of thousands of Christians were consequently forced to flee the violence. Many of them went to Syria.”

In short, should “rebels” get their way and topple the Assad regime, the same brutal pattern experienced by Iraq’s Christian minorities—who have been likened to, and killed off like, dogs, to a point nearing extinction—will come to Syria, where an anti-Assad Muslim preacher recently urged Muslims to “tear apart, chop up and feed” Christians who support Assad “to the dogs.”Last week alone, some 70 additional Christian homes were invaded and pillaged, and “for the first time in the history of the conflict in Syria, an armed attack has been made on a Catholic monastery,” partially in search of money.

And who are these “rebels” who see and treat Christians as sub-humans to be exploited and plundered to fund the “opposition” against Assad? Unfortunately, many of them are Islamists, internal and external, and their “opposition” is really a jihad [holy war]; moreover, they are acting out anti-Christian fatwas that justify the kidnapping, ransoming, and plundering of “infidel” Christians.

As in Libya, al-Qaeda is operating among the Syrian opposition; Ayman al-Zawahiri himself “urges the Syrian people to continue their revolution until the downfall of the Assad regime, and stresses that toppling this regime is a necessary step on the way to liberating Jerusalem.” Both the influential Yusif al-Qaradawi and Hamas — the latter supported by Assad’s ally, Iran— back the “rebels.” This overview should place the “opposition” — who they are, what they want — in a clearer context.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Obama, who was remarkably reticent when Iranians seeking Western-style freedom tried to revolt against the oppressive Islamist regime of Iran, made it a point during his recent State of the Union Address to single out Assad by name as needing to go (not that the Republican presidential candidates seem to know any better; see Andrew McCarthy‘s recent article where, drawing on America’s other misadventures in Islamic nations, he shows how the U.S. has little to gain and possibly much to lose by supporting the anti-Assad opposition).

The lesson here is clear: while it is true that not all of Assad’s opposition is Islamist—there are anti-Assad Muslims who do not want a state that will be run by Islamic Sharia law —the Islamists are quite confident that the overthrow of Assad will equate with their empowerment. And why shouldn’t they be? Wherever Arab tyrants have been overthrow—Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, and so on —it is Islamists who are filling the power-vacuums. Just ask Syria’s Christian minorities, who prefer the dictator Assad to remain in power—who prefer the devil they know to the ancient demon their forefathers knew.

Raymond Ibrahim is an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Features Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    JNS.org – Aside from Israel itself, those with a vested interest in the Jewish state are accustomed to tracking developments related to Middle East players such as Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But much global attention has recently focused on the Caucasus region at the Europe-Asia border, specifically on the suddenly intensified violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh area of western Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while not taking place in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, does have what one scholar called […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    JNS.org – On Friday, April 22, 196 nations across the world mark Earth Day, the annual day dedicated to environmental protection that was enacted in 1970. Not to be forgotten on this day is Israel, which is known as the “start-up nation” for its disproportionate amount of technological innovation, including in the area of protecting the environment. For Earth Day 2016, JNS.org presents a sampling of the Jewish state’s internal achievements and global contributions in the environmental realm. Water conservation Israeli […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture World New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    Holocaust humor and the role that laughter played in the lives of Jews during World War II are the focus of a documentary that made its world premiere on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In The Last Laugh, first- and second-generation survivors, as well as famous Jewish and non-Jewish comedians, discuss their thoughts on when joking about the death camps is appropriate or taboo. “Nazi humor, that’s OK. Holocaust humor, no,” Jewish comedic giant, actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks says in the film. “Anything I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    JNS.org – Sherri Mandell’s life was devastated on May 8, 2001, when her 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists on the outskirts of the Israeli Jewish community of Tekoa. Yet Mandell not only shares the story of her loss, but also celebrates the lessons she has learned from tragedy. Indeed, “celebrate” is this Israeli-American author’s word choice. Her second book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press), came out earlier this year. The lesson: in every celebration, there is […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    JNS.org – Alan Gross used to be nothing more to me than a tragic headline. When I started my position at this news service in July 2011, Gross had been imprisoned in Cuba since December 2009 for what that country called “crimes against the state.” Gross, a subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development, went to Cuba to help the Jewish community there access the Internet. After his arrest, he received a trial he describes as a “B movie,” […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Features New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    JNS.org – When I saw the recent Academy Award-winning film “The Big Short,” I was struck by the sheer genius of the financiers who devised the schemes and packaged the loans for resale, but it left me with unanswered questions about how the properties these loans represented were moved. “The Big Short” was largely about paper transactions, big money, and wealthy investors, and it mildly touched on the way the actual end-users — the home buyers and brokers — played into this […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Why do we think so negatively about psychiatrists that we still insult them by calling them shrinks? Some medics might be quacks, but we don’t generally refer to them as witches! Shrinks; The Untold Story of Psychiatry, by Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, is a sobering account of how psychiatry has swung from a marginal, unscientific mixture of weird theories into one of the most common and pervasive forms of treatment of what are commonly called “disorders of the mind.” Is it […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion At Forbes Summit in Israel, Entrepreneurship Is a ‘Common Language’

    At Forbes Summit in Israel, Entrepreneurship Is a ‘Common Language’

    JNS.org – Nine months ago, Seth Cohen, director of network initiatives for the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and Randall Lane, editor of Forbes Magazine, were schmoozing about the “vibrancy of Tel Aviv and soul of Jerusalem,” as Lane put it. They dreamed about how they could bring young and innovative millennials to the so-called “start-up nation.” From April 3-7, Forbes turned that dream into a reality. Israel played host to the first-ever Forbes Under 30 EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) […]

    Read more →