If you have not been hiding under a rock, you will have noticed that a lot of bad things have been going down in Syria in the last year. Lots of innocent persons killed, lots of mayhem and destruction. Most of it inflicted by governmental forces of President Bashar Assad. One of the great neglected subjects when it comes to American media coverage (see the article in U.S.A. Today May 11 by Stephen Starr, however, which is an exception), is the plight of Christians. Also MIA in American media coverage is an explanation of who exactly the resistance fighters are in Syria. As it turns out, some of them are Al Queda partisans who want a more radical Islam in control of that nation, though some of them are simply radicalized ordinary Muslims who have been harmed by the current regime. It’s a mixed and mixed up situation, and it’s complex.
In the case of the Christians in Syria, a few facts are in order. At the beginning of the ‘Arab spring’ uprising when it reached Syria, there was a chant amongst the revolutionaries—’Christians to Beirut, Alawites (i.e. the Assad clan) to the coffin’. In other words, the revolution was religious in character to a real degree, and one of its goals was driving Christians right out of the country.
In light of this, and partly because of this we have an explanation for the second fact— Christians in Syria tend to support Assad, and Assad in turn has protected various Christian groups and churches from radical Muslims. Of course, of this fact you hear nothing on the American news. A third fact is important. Christians in Syria know their fate will always be determined by the Muslim majority. But what sort of Muslims do they want in power? Obviously those who are tolerant of Christians and don’t try to drive them into the sea.
Thus it is, that while President Assad will not soon be winning any Nobel Peace Prize Awards, and there are many reasons to critique his regime on various issues, the Christians in Syria continue to support the current status quo. While Christians there do believe democracy would be the best of all possible worlds, they do not think they live in such a world at this juncture, and see no prospect of that yet to come, especially when they see what has happened in Egypt or Libya since the Arab spring.
While I do not know this to be the case with certainty, it is presumably in part because of the plight of Christians in Syria that we have not aided the rebels in that country unlike what we did in Libya to get rid of Qaddafi. Here again we have an important reminder that blind support by Americans for either this Muslim regime or that Israeli regime in the Middle East often comes at the expense of Christians. In the Holy Land, it comes at the expense of Palestinian Christians in places like east Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth. In Syria it comes at the expense of Christians in places like Damascus or Homs. Christians have been leaving the Middle East in droves for the last five decades for a good reason….. they have been caught between a rock and a hard place again and again, and America has never really come to the rescue of these Christians in any of these countries. Never. And it is shameful.