Christians fear violent fallout in Syrian war

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A Syrian girl holds a candle during a demonstration showing solidarity with Syria’s anti-government protesters at Martyrs’ Square in Beirut. Pope Benedict has appealed for reconciliation and respect for human rights in Syria and Libya, where t he governments have used force to try to end pro-democracy movements.

Catholic News Service

Pressure being put on the Syrian government could have very bad consequences, especially for Christians, warns the patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church.

Attempts to collapse the government “will very probably lead to chaos,” fears Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan.

“This chaos, surely — with no means to implement security — will lead to civil war,” said the patriarch, who stressed that a civil war in Syria would not merely be a struggle among political parties to control the power. “It will be confessional (religious), and war in the name of God is far worse than a political struggle. And this is what we fear.”

Syrian Christians make up about 10 percent of the nation’s population.

Syria needs a lot of reforms, a multiparty system of government and freedom of speech, he said, but reforms have to be executed or accomplished through dialogue.” He says there is a need for a neutral third party “that could unite those who are in conflict,” the government and the opposition.

Syria’s small, minority-represented government, the Alawites who have been running the country for 40 years, is not going to let go easily because officials know if the Sunnis take over, it’s going to be dangerous for the Alawites.

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