Patriarch urges Christians ‘to stay put in Syria’

Syria’s Greek Orthodox leader called on Christians on Saturday to remain in the country despite its spiralling conflict, which the UN recently described as “overtly sectarian.”

Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Yuhanna X Yazigi also appealed to warring parties to renounce violence and to start a process of dialogue.

In his first press conference in Damascus since he replaced Ignatius IV Hazim, who died on December 5, the new patriarch said: “We Christians are here in the country and we will stay here.

“We believe that Christ is always present in this region, which is where Christianity was born.”

The patriarch spoke to reporters two days after a UN probe found that the Syrian conflict has become “overtly sectarian in nature.”

Also on Saturday, Syrian rebels warned two Christian towns in the central region of Hama they will be attacked if they do not evict fighters loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

The patriarch sought to downplay dangers faced by Christians.

“What is happening to us is happening to others too. We are in the same situation as everyone else, Muslims and Christians, shoulder to shoulder, facing the difficulties,” said Yuhanna X.

The patriarch also called on warring parties to renounce violence “in all its forms,” and to start a process of dialogue, “for our benefit, for the country, for the sake of peace (in Syria) and peace in the region.”

“Dialogue,” he said, should be “based on accepting one another.”

There are some 1.8 million Christians in Syria, many of whom have remained neutral in the country’s conflict. Others have taken Assad’s side, for fear of the rise of Islamism.

AFP

  • Prophettttt

    Similarities between Israel and the so called rebels in Syria:
    “Syrian rebels warned two Christian towns in the central region of Hama they will be attacked if they do not evict fighters loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.”
    The same type of warning Israel used to send to Lebanese villages in the south during the seventies:”Evict the Palestinians,who were evicted from their homes by Israel ,or you would be attacked”. All Israel had to do was open the border,and let the Palestinians back into their homes.But where would the “rebels “,who are mostly foreigners,expect the regime supporters to be “evicted” to?
    Knowing that neither the southerners could evict the PLO,nor can these two Syrian towns evict the regime,The Lebanese villagers were doomed, so are these two christian towns. Welcome to “freedom and democracy”.

  • Prophettttt

    Similarities between Israel and the so called rebels in Syria:
    “Syrian rebels warned two Christian towns in the central region of Hama they will be attacked if they do not evict fighters loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.”
    The same type of warning Israel used to send to Lebanese villages in the south during the seventies:”EVICT THE PALESTINIANS OR YOU WILL BE ATTACKED”. All Israel had to do was open the border,and let the Palestinians back into their homes.
    Knowing that neither the southerners could evict the PLO,nor can these two Syrian towns evict the regime,The Lebanese villagers were doomed, so are these two christian towns.

  • Btru2u

    The Patriach sounds very shifty .wants christians stay neutral….  or two faced double dealers, is not going to win them any freinds. Ask yourself , is it ok to watch your community and neighbours being tortured and executed without doing anything.
    i think the Patriach is sniffing the scent of a power vacuum which he wants to capitlise on.

  • Btru2u

    The Patriach sounds very shifty .wants christians stay neutral….  or two faced double dealers, is not going to win them any freinds. Ask yourself , is it ok to watch your community and neighbours being tortured and executed without doing anything.
    i think the Patriach is sniffing the scent of a power vacuum which he wants to capitlise on.