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Nothing safe, nothing sacred: Syrian rebels desecrate Christian churches?

FOREWORD

Dearly beloved readers and subscribers of Mode of Life, we regret that this week we have diverged from our usual schedule of article publications to bring some troubling news from our fellow Orthodox Christian brethren in Syria.  Many things have been reported within the Western media which are not detailed or objective, with preference given to the rebels who have seen fit to not even sit down at the conference table to discuss and put forward grievances. This is not to say that our weblog is a political forum or that it endorses either side, because the rule of Assad has brought its own problems to the people of Syria, but it would be foolish to heed the American State Department’s version of events either. As one of the founders of Mode of Life, it should be known to you that I maintain links with the Middle East through family and friends who live there, as well as having lived and studied there myself. Therefore it is not easy to speak about the witness and struggles of our brethren who have endured 15 centuries of persecution and discrimination for bearing witness to our unique mode of life which we lead in Christ.

The following article that we present is not one written and reported by us personally, but in maintaining links with the Middle East, we can say that these turn of events are signalling another round within the ongoing story of persecution of Orthodox Christians. It is thus errant to believe that persecution and discrimination is just a historical precedent that happened centuries ago, but continues into our own times and reminds us that we cannot take the freedoms we enjoy for granted. On the contrary our Orthodox Faith teaches us to avoid the use of hatred and violence against our fellow human beings because they are created in the image of and according to the likeness of God. Nor does it teach that the differences which may separate us as individuals or as a community should ever be a ground for intolerance or to justify criminal and unjust acts against others. Nor can we claim that such actions are sanctioned or blessed by God, in order to justify one’s evil intent against another human being, for was it not God who created us and the other person; for He is the Creator of all? It is therefore blasphemous to call others infidels and justify their slaughter on that basis, because ultimately we all are God’s children and have a responsibility of care for one another.

ARTICLE

Shocking images have surfaced, revealing the alleged
desecration of Christian churches in Syria by Western backed
rebels.
The pictures, taken by local Christians outraged at the
violence, were published by PrisonPlanet.com.
In one of the photos a man who is said to be a member
of the Free Syrian Army poses in a stolen priest’s
robe while brandishing a looted cross in one hand and
a machine gun in the other.

The photos were taken by a Christian woman in
Homs, one of the cities most devastated by continued
violent clashes between rebels and government forces.
“Everyone knows simply removing these garments
from the church is a sin. The priest is the only one who
wears them. They even pray before putting them on,”
the woman told PrisonPlanet.com.
She added that after the rebels tore the church apart,
they went inside to document their violence.
Images show church pews broken apart, with pieces
strewn all over the nave. The floor is covered with rubble,
and even the altar looks like it has been desecrated.
Christian minorities are facing a growing threat and thousands
are being forced to flee their homes as they
face harassment and discrimination from opposition
radical Islamist factions. At least 9,000 Christians from
the western Syrian city of Qusayr were forced to seek
refuge after an ultimatum from a local military chief
from the armed opposition, the Vatican’s Fides news
agency said.
Earlier, a Christian man was shot dead by a sniper in
Qusayr, which neighbours the city of Homs. Some reports
have even suggested that a number of mosques
in the city have announced that “Christians must leave
Qusayr within six days.”

Two Catholic priests who fled the city confirmed to
the news agency that they heard the ultimatum repeated
from the minarets “with their own ears.”
Attempts to evacuate Christians from the city of Homs
over the past two weeks have also been unsuccessful,
and a priest in the city said the rebels appeared to
want to keep the civilians inside to use them as bargaining
chips.
Thousands of Christians have fled certain areas of
Homs that fell into rebel hands in February.
Meanwhile, US intelligence operatives and diplomats
continue to step up their contacts with Syrian rebels to
help organize their growing military operations against
President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
According to senior US officials, the CIA and the State
Department are helping the Free Syrian Army develop logistical
routes for moving supplies into Syria and providing
training in communications.

Reportedly, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to the Syrian
rebels for several months now. Meanwhile, Turkey,
which hosts some units of the Free Syrian Army, ensures
material and technical support, according to
sources. And many believe that as long as the US and
its allies continue to blindly support the radical rebels,
stability in Syria will remain unattainable.

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