“We have never had any division between Christians and Muslims”

Vestnik Kavkaza – 14/10/13

“This is a bloody mayhem supported by the sinister Pentagon’s scenario of military pressure, violence and air strikes that will undoubtedly provoke many casualties and paralyze Syria”, the deputy chairman of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (IOPS) Elena Agapova emotionally began her story about the humanitarian situation in Syria.

According to her, “the militants of terrorist organizations, primarily the” Dzhabhat en- Nusra “, destroy like vultures this divine land, part of the Holy Land, and commit the most heinous crimes – murders of whole families, the whole communities, clans, destroying entire cities. 60 ancient temples in Syria have been destroyed. The militants profane icons, crosses and altars everywhere, and destroy the rich spiritual heritage of Syria – this unique crossroad of ancient cultures and civilizations of global significance. This is a huge tragedy, the permanent loss for the entire Christian world. As for the clergy, the Christians are subjected to brutal violence and murdered with extreme cruelty. We still do not know anything about the fate of the two metropolitans who were abducted by militants on April 22 – Metropolitan of Aleppo Paul, brother of the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East John X, and Metropolitan of Syro- Jacobite Orthodox Church Mar Gregorios John Ibrahim”. Bishop of Apamea Isaac Barakat said that “the Russian side cares about the people in Syria, regardless of what religion they belong to. There is a unspoken arrangement that the help that comes from Russia will be distributed among all Christians and Muslims in Syria”.

Bishop once again conveyed the request of the Ministry of Social Queries in Syria, as well as the Red Cross and Red Crescent in Damascus, to help deliver baby food and baby milk to Syria, because the EU refused to supply products for infants there.

In early September, the militants seized a town populated mostly by Christians – Maalula. They ransacked this small town, churches and monasteries which have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Several churches were burned and looted. According to Bishop Isaac, still about 40 nuns and orphans remain locked in the monastery of St. Thecla in Maalula beset by fighters. They have no electricity, no water, and there is nothing to eat… Twice we were able to send assistance to the monastery”, Bishop Isaac said to the reporters.

According to him, passing the necessary products to the monastery was successful due to Patriarch John X and the Syrian army. The bishop also said that a week ago, militants attacked the temple of the Holy Cross in Damascus, where Barakat is the abbot, and the Greek- Catholic Church of the Holy Virgin. “Eight people were killed, and twenty were injured”, the representative of the Patriarchate of Antioch said.

“Bombs and shells do not have eyes, they do not distinguish between Christians and Muslims. Anyone could die. So all Syrians, not only Christians but also Muslims, suffer from the war that is going on. It is now said that some regions in Syria are Christian, and some are Muslim; this is a new language that has appeared recently. In Syria we have never divided these areas. In our schools, both Christians and Muslims are learning. There are so many Muslims who come to us to learn in our religious schools. Only in the last three years have there were conversations about Christians, Muslims, the differences between them, it’s a new language, it’s a kind of a new reality that we have never had”, he added.

Elena Agapova spoke about the humanitarian aid sent from Russia and added that touching letters and icons from the orphan girls of Vyksunski Iverski convent of the Nizhny Novgorod region were sent to Syria: “These orphans from Russia have written to Syrian children in Arabic: “Everything will be fine”.

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