His Exc. Mgr. Mario Zenari, the Apostolic Nuncio to Syria, in response to the declarations issued by Agenzia Fides, the official Vatican news agency (See Fides 21/03/2012), and in indirect renunciation of the earlier claims of sister Agnes-Mariam of the Cross and others, confirmed to Adnkronos International (AKI), an Italian independent news agency, that the city of Homs is not subject to ethnic cleansing. In this context, the Nuncio exalted the efforts of whoever stayed in Homs from the people of the Christian neighborhoods to aid the arriving displaced Homsi Syrians from other neighborhoods. As for the Faruq Brigade, in their proclamation released on 22/03/2012, they denied Fides’s accusations that the Brigade is correlated to al-Qaeda, and that it is responsible for the displacement of 90 percent of the Christians of Homs. Note that I am only mentioning what the proclamation stated, and putting aside my opinion that military resistance cannot solve the Syrian issue. The proclamation further emphasized “Regarding our brothers from the honorable Christian sect, our feelings towards the Syrian regime is mutual with the majority of Christians if not all. They help us, as many of our soldiers undergo medical treatment by their doctors and nurses, and also a lot of the humanitarian aid reaches us through and from them”. Nevertheless, in order not to fall for naïve idealism, the proclamation confirmed the existence of Christian Shabiha militias, and even gave its readers examples of “Christians” who took part in killing of civilians. This way, the Faruq’s proclamation confirms its refusal for simplifying reality into one color, either white or black, because according to the proclamation, Christians are divided in their political stand, just like the rest of Syrians of other sects. Thus the proclamation refuses to sum up a sect in a certain unified political stand. On the other hand, we must not dive in the naïve antagonist simplification that denies the widespread sectarian tension in some Syrian regions, and ignores the harassment that some citizens suffered due to their religious affiliation.
Here, the [Faruq Brigade] proclamation anticipates the forthcoming danger as it states: “The slandering party [Fides] … threatens our national unity, the unity that the Eastern Christians have with their brothers from other sects.” Yes, these irresponsible declarations that Fides propagated are a social threat to the national unity of Syria, because they blindly strip off the revolution from its political and social background that led to its eruption, such as subjugation, corruption, and tyranny. It depicts the uprising as a mere sectarian conflict between a religious majority, and a minority ruling to defend the rest of minorities in Syria! This way, such declarations and similar ones that came from other clergies from other sects, provide a suitable climate for sectarianism to break out through their excessive contribution to the culture of rumors.
In addition to being a social threat, these declarations outrageously contradict themselves; on one hand we see them “defending” the Christians, yet on the other hand they oppose the concept of “hope,” which is the backbone of Christian theology. Hope is basically to reject self-isolation and to disdain oneself from demonizing others, by holding on to the bright spot which cannot be removed despite the darkness of the overall picture. Here we see hope, for example, in the beauty of the young men and women who sacrifice their lives to deliver humanitarian aid to those who need it, regardless of their religious belief or political position! Hope is founded on those youth who roved through the city’s streets during the festive sessions to distribute presents in Christmas stockings that they called “Freedom Stockings,” on which they wrote: “We want it to be a state of justice and dignity, a state of law, a civil state where we are all equal. I am a young Muslim, and I am holding your virtuous hand so we can build our homeland and erase the backwardness of the past.” We put our hope in those young men and women whose names will remain anonymous; they carried a whiff of heaven to us then walked away without leaving us their addresses, yet leaving us much love.
Therefore, it would have been more appropriate of those who adopted such declarations coming from Fides to ask the Syrian regime to open the doors of Syria wide open for the international press, instead of getting involved in the culture of fatal rumors and simplistic stereotyping. They should have done that away from the official Syrian media and its lies, and surpassing the Syrian opposition’s media that is still incapable of documenting the violations by some parties. It would have been better if these people also discussed the logical reasons that led to the outburst of the revolution in Syria and analyzed the barbarous response of the regime in handling it, which has led to a deterioration of the Syrian situation to become what we are living today, instead of surrendering to the fear of the anticipated Islamic “bogey” and fighting it with another form of radicalism! Yes, there are some horrific sectarian cases today in Syria, and there are also rumors fueling the danger of the situation, yet, there are also men and women resisting radicalism in their lifestyle and behaviors, and the responsibility of supporting them lays on each and every one of us!
(A Christian Priest from Syria)