ASIA/SYRIA – Assyrian Christians appeal in the Syrian opposition: “Stop Salafi groups”

Hassaké (Agenzia Fides) – It is urgent to stop the “Jubhat Al Nosra” Salafist group that is spreading terror in Mesopotamia: is the appeal launched by the new “National Coalition of the revolution and opposition” (CNS) from the “Assyrian Democratic Organization” (ADO), a Christian group that is part of the Syrian opposition. In a statement sent to Fides, the ADO said it is “outraged because armed elements of the ‘Jubhat Al Nosra’ Salafist group, that fights alongside the Free Syrian Army, terrorize civilians and confiscate with impunity Christian properties in the region of Hassaké”, in eastern Syria on the border with Turkey. The ADO has a significant presence in the area, and many Assyrian Christians who fled from the village of Ras El Ain, on the border with Turkey, have fled to Hassaké (see Fides 30/11/2012). The note condemns “practices and misconduct on behalf of some elements of the Free Army or affiliated groups, in the village of Ras El Ain, Tel Amr, Raqqa, as assaults on private property and looting,” signaling “breaking into the Syro-Orthodox church in Ras El Ain, the desecration of Christian symbols such as crosses and sacred images, the devastation of the Syrian school of the village. ” The ADO, remembering that for decades its members have suffered arbitrary arrests by the Syrian regime, notes that “today, some Assyrian Christians suspected of being supporters of the regime, have been kidnapped to force their children to fight with the rebels” , calling this “a repetition of the practice of the regime.” Salafist elements have erected roadblocks towards Tal Tamr, in particular, intercepting passing vehicles, “they threaten and insult Christians and other passengers who belong to different faiths.” “These practices – says the ADO – have no link with the traditions, culture and customs of Syrian society, historically based on brotherhood and the values of coexistence and mutual respect between different religious communities.” “These practices are in conflict with the teachings and values of tolerant Islam – the report says – which damage the reputation of the Syrian revolution, turning its noble goals, to foment hatred among the Syrians.” The ADO calls on the forces represented in the Coalition of the Syrian opposition to “intervene forcefully to reduce the growing tension between Arabs and Kurds in Mesopotamia, which has a negative impact on the peace and unity of the social fabric,” inviting “all warring parties to show moderation, respecting civilians, avoiding provocations and religious fundamentalism.” (PA) (Agenzia Fides 07/12/2012)