Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Syrian Christians Must Be Rescued. But, from What?

(This an English translation of an article I wrote first in Arabic to be published in Damascus Journal, London, and a shorter version of it in French translation was already published in the French Le Monde last week)

            From the very first moments of the Syrian revolution, voices from East and West were raised lamenting the Christians’ situation in the heart of the struggle, and calling for rescuing them from the war’s inferno and for protecting them from the ethnic and religious cleansing, which they are going to be exposed to when the tyrannical and criminal regime would collapse and be replaced by an Islamist, fanatic rule. Since the very first harbingers of the Syrian people’s rebellion, the Christians found themselves in the midst of riots that were pulled later on, by the regime and the extremist rebellions alike, into the square of an open, bloody war. And because Syria became an open field for settling the historical, strategic and political deals of the entire region, the Christians fell at the mercy of the choices of their clerical prelates, on one side, and the terrifying, treasoning discourse and media of the regime, on another.

            Most of the Christian (and Muslim) religious prelates have often been attached to the regime in Syria by means of a complicated network of authoritative, pragmatic, individual and mutual-interest network of connections and alliances; a network that has started during the age of Al-Assaad senior and continued during the rule of Al-Assaad junior. Therefore, and since the revolution’s kick off, these prelates resiliently proliferated before the entire world the claim that the Easter Christian public hardly sees any possible salvation and survival to itself in the East after the collapse of Al-Assad’s rule. As if the recent Assaad is the Church’s contemporary Messiah, and as if the Assaadi regime and no else is the guarantor of Eastern and Arab Christianity’s salvation; as if Christianity has never existed before it and it will never continue existing after or without it. The discourses of these clerical prelates have always been baptized with negative imaginations on the rebelling Muslim (and Christian) Syrians, which insinuate that they are the enemies of Christianity and a threat to its existence; as if the Christians have never lived side-by-side with Muslims during the 1400 years, minus forty years, and as if what happened to the Christians in Iraq is definitely the fate that is waiting for them in Syria.

On the other hand, the regime and its local and international media machine worked, from the beginning of the revolution, and at the peak of this revolution’s peacefulness and civility, on terrifying the Christians (and the Alawites) from the consequences of the revolution’s success and the replacement with a new Syria the ‘Syria’ which the regime malformed and tailored according to its own calculations. The regime worked hard on enhancing the presence of religious and confessional extremism and started to pave the paths for filling Syria with all kinds of terrorism, fanaticism and jihadism. As well as it started to exert on the silent Christians in Syria all sorts of terrorization, threatening and suppression possible; promising them of excessive harm and evil if they just thought of supporting the mere principals of the revolution or if they, merely theoretically or ethically, backed its rightful demands (as the regime itself admitted at one point). The regime has recently intensified its exploitative implementation of the Christian clerical prelates in its media and propaganda policies; opening before them all the internal and external venues to express their fear from Islam and to reveal explicitly their historical, cultural and sociological loftiness toward every non-Christian.

Yes, the Christians of Syria needs rescue. But, they need to be rescued from the two above mentioned sides, who force on them exclusivist ideologies and political and public discourses that promulgate hatred and demonization against the ‘other’ and narrows the Christians’ (and Alawites’) view of this other down to mere sociopathic complexes. The Syrian Christians need to be rescued by all of us from the regime’s exploitation of them as merely cards, no more, in the game of its own survival and existence. They must be rescued from a hegemonic regime that does not at all protect the minorities (nor the Christians among them in particular), but it rather protects itself by the minorities and use them as a shield for its own rescue. The Syrian Christians must be rescued from the false discourse of the regime’s agents among their own clerical prelates, who propagate lies on the nature of the events in Syria and its true details. They must be rescued from the disastrous choice of these church leaders, who opted for stretching their hand of alliance to the owner of power and authority and rule, instead of deciding to open their arms toward the broader Syrian society and to embrace the people’s choices and defend the oppressed, tyrannized, terrorized and killed among those, who are supposed to be the Christians’ brothers and sisters in the nation. The Christians must be rescued from this option, for rules and regimes rise and fall, and only people and their co-existence remains.

            Yes, the Syrian Christians need to be rescued from the regime’s terrorizing and tyrannizing game by making the world realize, contrary to what the regime and its agents around the world allege, that the Christians in Syria opt for whatever their siblings in the nation long for, and they dream of another Syria with no tyranny; and they do not wish that Syria would remain as it was or as it is now; and they are not innately persuaded by the theory of ethnic and religious cleansing. They do know that the revolution was not unleashed against them, but against the regime that intimidates them, by the revolution, from its collapse. The Christians must be rescued from systematized fear and intellectual suppression. We must take seriously on board that many of them participated and still in the revolution, despite their spiritual leaders’ wishes and against all the security forces’ threats.


            Dear westerners, Christian or non-Christian, be sure always that you hear about the true Syria, not hearing what you intrinsically or subconsciously wish to hear that the situation is. If you want truly to rescue Syrian Christianity, then please differentiate it from the lies and alliances of its clerical prelates and their submission to their Assadi messiah. If you want to rescue the Syrian Christians, know that they do not believe in the regime’s propaganda and claims about its protection of minorities. They do remain silent before these claims, not because they concede them, but because they are afraid of the oppression and punishment they will be exposed to by the regime if they withstand them. Rescue the Syrian Christians from over-projecting your Islamophobia and problems with Islam on their situation. Rescue the Syrian Christians by viewing them as the Christians in Egypt, not as the Christians in Iraq. Just like their brothers and sisters in Egypt, the Christians in Syria do support the general demands of the public and they dream with the Muslims and the secularists alike of a Syria free from terrorism, killing, blood, blaspheming, jihadism, fanaticism, backwardness, tyranny, hegemony and corruption. Rescue the Christians from the lies and loyalties of the corrupted and weak among their leaders. And, rescue them from tyranny, terrorization and intimidation, which the regime strangles them with.                               

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