Orthodox Priests Continue To Be Targeted By Syrian Rebels – OpEd

by OCP on July 6, 2013

in Featured News, News

By Milena Faustova – July 2013

The Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO), which unites 29 countries, made a statement saying that according to information available, two Orthodox metropolitans have been killed in Syria during the past few months. For the time being, it is the only official statement providing information about victims among Christian clergymen. In their dialogue with the Voice of Russia, Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Muslims Committee Albir Krganov, and editor-in-chief of the Moscow-based “Geopolitics” journal Leonid Savin are trying to understand who is benefitting from this bloodshed and why, whether it is possible to halt it, and what measures the world community should take right now.

Several days ago a short video clip from Syria was posted on the Internet. Although the quality of this video was not very good, one could see masked people massacring two clergymen. However, it is somewhat premature to claim that those two clergymen who were kidnapped near Aleppo in late April were from Antiochian Church or Syrian Jacobite Church, says Nikolai Balashov:

“An attempt to establish the identity of the executed clergymen as well as the time and place of execution that was filmed brought no results. Neither the Antiochian Patriarchate nor the Russian embassy in Syria can confirm that the two executed men were definitely the kidnapped hierarchs. Both the Antiochian Church and the Russian embassy are doing their utmost to return the kidnapped hierarchs to their place of service. Meanwhile, there is reason to believe that the above-mentioned video-clip shows a demonstration execution of Syrian Christians. Taking into account other evidence of the persecution of national minorities in Syria – above all Christians – one can say that the situation there is very bad.”

Besides the execution of Orthodox priests is Syria, there are other similar cases that occurred there recently. According to the Vatican, a Catholic priest – a Franciscan – was killed there several days ago. His death was strongly denounced by the Holy See and other countries including Russia.

The murders of people belonging to different confessions are committed in Syria by bandits, not by Muslims. These bandits are trampling on spiritual norms and canons and are trying to destabilize the situation in the country even more, First Deputy Chairman of the Central Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Russia Albir Krganov said in an interview with the Voice of Russia.

“The Muslims of Russia can’t conceal their indignation while they are closely following the events occurring in the Arab world, including Syria. Regrettably, there is a tendency in the world today to use a religious factor in the settlement of political and geopolitical issues. When politicians use piety for their mercenary motives, it is not only disgusting, it is blasphemy.”

The civil war in Syria has been going on for more than two years now. What gave rise to it were anti-government rallies and disturbances against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Shortly after, the armed opposition forces got support from the West and USA. This was one of their most serious blunders, Editor-in-Chief of the Moscow-based “Geopolitics” journal Leonid Savin says:

“The experience of the Iraq war has already shown that it’s no good to put a stake on religious forces. In Iraq this led to the strengthening of the inter-religious differences and terrorism. When the civil war broke out in Syria, it became clear that the Sunnis and the terrorist groups linked to Al Qaeda would stake on the extermination of representatives of all other religions, including both the leaders of the Alawites and Christians.”

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