Christians of Syria: Close to President Assad, Against Takfiris

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Middle East
Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The Syrian Christians who account for 10 percent of the population of the country like the Alawites are in very close relations with the government of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Under both the former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad and his son Bashar al-Assad the Christians of Syria enjoyed wide-ranging freedoms in the country.

When Bashar al-Assad took the office, the Syrian parliament made new laws according to which the Christians of the country had their own special rules in the judicature and the civil registration. The new laws were, to a large extent, in accordance with their rituals and traditions. For example, in 2004, Act 10 was approved in the Syrian parliament which was about civil registration of the Christians specifically for the Syriac Orthodox Christians. Furthermore, another law dubbed Act 23 was approved which was specifically customized for Romanian Orthodox Christians. This act, too, determined special laws for civil registration of this Christian branch. Additionally, in 2006, the Syrian parliament introduced the new Act 31, according to which the groups linked to the Catholics had to follow rules of Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Although the Christians in Syria politically support President Assad and argue that at the present time the priority is to fight the takfiri groups, some famous Christian figures of Syria like George Sabra are among the Syrian opposition groups. Sabra was president of Syrian National Council, and also acting president of Syrian National Coalition– both Syrian opposition organizations. Commenting on the terrorist groups active in Syria, Sabra said that the terrorist groups including ISIS were not only problems for Syria's people but also they were threat for other countries and even the whole global community.

Another prominent Christian figure from Syria is Michel Kilo. He is a leading member of National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. He was formerly member of Syrian Communist Party. Kilo lashed out at Qatar and other countries which he said sought continuation of Syrian crisis.

Moreover, the Syrian Christians in Al-Jazira region in northeastern Syria have formed an opposition council named Syriac Military Council. The council is led by Bassam Ishak, a Syrian Christian figure. But Ishak holds view close to the Syrian government about the terrorist forces. He strongly rejected allegations that the Syrian government tried to create terrorist groups like ISIS. Ishak maintained that after ISIS' capture of Mosul in northern Iraq, it was made clear that ISIS was a foreign plot aiming at raising a Sunni wall in front of the Shiite Crescent, something in full conflict with interests of Syrian and Iraqi governments. Talking about the French plan to receive the Christians of the region, Ishak said that this move by France aimed at evacuating the Christians from the region. He said that it was part of plot to partition the region and create an area of influence for radical Sunni camp.

All in all it must be noted that despite existence of opposite voices among the Christian community of Syria, a majority of Syrian Christians, specifically the Christian religious leaders, are standing by President Bashar al-Assad. They are supporting Damascus government in its battle against terrorist forces. It is worth noting that the Christians' military assistance and their participation in the national defense committees are limited to Christian-inhabited areas. This means that they have no role in protection or liberation of other parts of Syria.

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