ASIA NEWS REPORT:
by Paul Dakiki
Mario Zenari comments on the Daraya massacre in to AsiaNews, with rebels and
government trading accusations of responsibility. The Melkite bishop of Aleppo
flees to Lebanon. Many Christians in Syria saved because of their religion. The
conflict in Syria is not an "Arab Spring", but far more complex, with "tragic
and unimaginable" consequences.
Damascus (AsiaNews) - Each Syrian dawn brings with it a fresh list of
deaths (real or imagined) and proclamations of victories (real or imagined).
Yesterday the rebels celebrated their downing of a military helicopter
in the district of Jobar in Damascus.
The government, for its part,
claims to have brought Daraya under control. The rebels accuse the regular
troops of having massacred at least 320 people, including women and children.
Video footage - unverified - shows bloodied and burned bodies. The government
accuses the terrorists of having carries out the massacre. UN Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon has called for an independent inquiry into the slaughter. And as the
Free Syrian Army seeks more support from the West, Assad continues to proclaim
war against a "foreign conspiracy" which aims to change the balance of power in
the region. Meanwhile, mounting evidence confirms the presence of al Qaeda
fighters in Syria, who have carried out "66 operations", half of them in
Damascus alone, in the period since June.
In this distressing situation,
comes the news that the offices of the Greek-catholic bishop in Aleppo, Msgr.
Jean-Clement Jeanbart, were looted. The bishop has fled to Lebanon. On all this,
AsiaNews asked the opinion of Msgr. Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio in
Your Excellency, what can you tell us of the
reports of killings and massacres?
In Syria things are bad,
very bad. I used to think of this situation as a tunnel, at the end of which we
would eventually see some light. But now I say that Syria is descending into
hell and when you go that way, all hope of light can be lost. Of course, history
is always in the hands of God and anything can happen and this descent can be
My invitation to the Christian communities in Syria and
abroad is this: the weapons are causing destruction and casualties. We must use
the weapon of prayer. Just yesterday I spoke to a pastor who lives in Aleppo,
alongside his faithful. And he said: I suggested to my faithful not to lose time
in the evening watching television, but to meet and say the rosary for
The UN Security Council is divided. Yesterday France
criticized Russia and China for their defense of Assad ... The international
community seems to be just standing by and watching, while fundamentalists gain
ground and the Arab countries of the South make their
The history of this conflict is full of gaffes and
contradictions, made both by Syria and the international community. Even the
ambassadors here in Damascus are beginning to realize that the analysis made
before have all gone up in smoke: it is difficult to define the conflict, and
all hypotheses are null and void.
In the beginning, the international
community viewed the riots in Syria as another chapter in the Arab Spring, as
something akin to what happened in Tunisia, Egypt or Libya. Instead Syria is
something unique and they are playing with fire, in a complex conflict, with
many delicate components. And there is the fear that the consequences will
become even more tragic and unimaginable.
Christians seen as a target in this conflict? Many people wonder about the fate
of Christians, but it is difficult to distinguish their fate from the collective
fate of all Syrians.
We must not exploit easy sympathies
and feelings, or talk about religious conflicts. The Christian community here
suffers the same as everyone else. Indeed, I must say that in some cases, here
and there, you'll find that some violence - too easily branded as "confessional"
- has its roots in family hatreds, past injustices, etc. ....
the thousands and thousands of cases in which precisely those who are Christian
are saved? I tell people the facts and Christians stopped at checkpoints, by
rebels or soldiers, are allowed to pass because they show their identity card on
which their religion is registered. And maybe, in this same place these rebels
or soldiers have killed other groups. The impression is that the media in the
West are exploiting clichés. Caution should be exercised. What is important is
that Christians work in Syria, along with other denominations, through our
identity, by being committed to non-violence, human rights. The future will be
what God wants, but it depends on us to build it.
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