Ethnic Cleansing of Syrian Christians (FrontPageMagazine.com) by Frank Crimi 03/29/12)
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Syrian President Basher Assad isn’t the only target of Syrian rebels
as Syria’s Orthodox Christian Church reports “ongoing ethnic
cleansing of Christians” by al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militant groups
in the embattled Syrian city of Homs.
The report from the Vatican news agency Fides says Brigade Faruq,
which has links with elements of al-Qaeda in Iraq and Islamist
mercenaries from Libya, has expelled 90 percent of Christians living
in Homs, nearly 50,000 people.
Reportedly, the armed Islamists went door to door in the Christian
neighborhoods of Hamidiya and Bustan al-Diwan informing the
homeowners that if they did not leave immediately they would be shot.
Then pictures of their corpses would be taken and sent to al-Jazeera,
along with the message that the Syrian government had killed them.
As such, the men, women and children — denied by the Islamists from
taking any of their belongings — were forced to flee to mountain
villages 30 miles outside of Homs, their homes occupied by the
militants who claimed the owners’ possessions as “war-booty from the
According to reports by Barnabas Aid, a relief agency assisting
Syrian Christians, the forced Christian exodus from Homs has been
ongoing since the beginning of February when armed Islamists murdered
more than 200 Christians, “including entire families with young
At that time a representative of Barnabas Aid pleaded, “Christians
are being forced to flee the city to the safety of government-
controlled areas. Muslim rebel fighters and their families are taking
over their homes.”
Unfortunately, Islamist attacks against Syria’s Christian community,
including kidnappings and murder, have occurred almost from the onset
of the popular uprising against the regime of Syrian President Bashar
Assad which began in March 2011.
These murders, which have killed over 100 Christians, include the
hanging of a 28-year-old man; a 40 year-old father of two shot dead;
two young men killed while waiting in line at a bakery; and a 37-year-
old father with a pregnant wife, his body cut into pieces and thrown
in a river.
Most recently, a car bombing targeted the Christian district in the
northern Syrian city of Aleppo, killing three and wounding 30. As
Giuseppe Nazzaro, the Vicar Apostolic of Aleppo, said, “In this
situation the Islamist and terrorist movements are making headway,”
adding “These are bad times for religious minorities.”
Unhappily, these sectarian attacks on Christians have sparked fears
that Syria could become like Iraq, where church attacks, kidnappings
and forced expulsions by armed Islamist militant groups after the US
invasion in 2003 drove Iraq’s Christian population from 1.4 million
to less than 300,000 today.
For its part, leaders of the Syrian opposition have denied sectarian
motives against Christians, noting that, even though the Syrian
insurgency is rooted in the nation’s Sunni Muslim majority, all
groups are welcome to join the Syrian rebellion.
Not surprisingly, that open invitation to join its ranks has gone
largely unanswered among Syrian Christians who make up 10 percent of
Syria’s 23 million, mostly Sunni Muslim populace.
Specifically, Syrian Christians have long viewed Assad’s secular
regime as being generally more tolerant of Syria’s religious
minorities, a belief certainly buttressed by the current anti-
Christian violence being perpetrated against them by Syrian Islamists.
To that end, despite the Syrian government’s horrific, murderous
crackdown on civilian protesters, Syrian Christians have mostly
stayed away from the street protests, worried that the alternative to
the Assad regime is, according to former Israeli ambassador Itamar
Rabinovich, “chaos, civil war, and possibly a radical Islamist
As was the case in Libya, that latter possibility becomes more of a
reality as Islamist terror movements in and out of Syria are vying to
gain influence over the Syrian revolt in hopes of gathering power if
For example, Sheikh Adnan al-Arour, a Syrian Salafi cleric exiled in
Saudi Arabia, has been calling for jihad against the “infidel” Assad
regime. Al-Arour’s exhortations have garnered him the open allegiance
of several Syrian Islamist rebel brigades, including “Supporters of
God Brigade” in Hama, which has praised him as “the leader of the
In eastern Syria, the “God is Great” Brigade proclaimed its formation
in an internet video that declared their fight to be a “jihad,” and
which they exhorted “our fellow revolutionaries…to declare jihad in
the path of God.”
The Syrian Islamist brigades are also getting assistance from outside
terror organizations and mercenaries from Iraq and Libya, aid which
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper acknowledged in
February when he testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee
that “al-Qaeda in Iraq is extending its reach into Syria.”
That terrorist reach was on display recently when the Al-Nusra Front,
a front group for al-Qaeda in Iraq according to US intelligence
officials, claimed responsibility for a double suicide bombing in
Damascus that killed 27 and wounded more than 100.
Finally, evidence of the rising Islamist influence in the Syrian
uprising was on view when several prominent figures quit the Syrian
National Council (SNC), the most widely-recognized coalition of anti-
regime forces, alleging that the Muslim Brotherhood had “hijacked”
the SNC agenda.
It should be noted that the news of the Islamist crackdown on
Christians comes at the same time that the UN is reporting that
Syrian rebels are using children as fighters and are kidnapping,
torturing and executing supporters of Bashar Assad and members of his
Nevertheless, President Obama has reacted to the growing sectarian
violence in Syria by recently pledging to send “non-lethal” aid to
the Syrian rebels, such as communications help and medical aid.
However, given the attacks it has suffered at their hands, the
President may want to earmark some of those humanitarian supplies to
Syria’s besieged Christian community. (Copyright © 2012
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