Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Better off in Syria

Another view of Syria.

“Christians are better off in Syria than anywhere else in the Middle East. Other than Lebanon, this is the only country in the region where a Christian can really feel the equal of a Muslim – and Lebanon, of course, has other problems. In Syria, there is no enmity between Christians and Muslims. If Syria were not here, we would be finished. Really. It is a place of sanctuary, a haven for all Christians: for the Nestorians and Chaldeans driven out of Iraq; for the Syrian Orthodox and Armenians driven out of Turkey; even some Palestinian Christians driven out of the Holy Land by the Israelis.”
The Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, quoted in From the Holy Mountain, William Dalrymple (p150)

Christians were welcomed in Syria after the First World War because the French had control. After independence, the Muslims, until then largely excluded from power, began to agitate for an Islamic state. Many Christians fled, However, in 1970, there was a coup d'√©tat, led by Assad Senior. He was from a minor Muslim sect, the Alawites, regarded by the Sunnis as little better than Christians. His power base became the non-Sunni minorities, including the Shi’ites, Druze, Yezidis and Christians, who are therefore once again welcome. This will hardly count when the crunch comes, but I don't think there's much doubt about what type of government Syria will land if/when Assad Junior falls, or what the fate of those minorities will be.

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