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Early March 2012
Syria and the Regime
Syria is a Middle-Eastern country, with a population of more than 20 million, ruled by Al Baath party since 1963 and by Al Assad family since 1970 . The regime is a totalitarian dictatorship whose power is concentrated in power centres controlled mainly by Alawites, a religious sect constituting about 10% of the population; a clear example of oligarchy. To ensure a strict control over the country, security bodies with sweeping powers were established and supported. These bodies are in continuous state of competition among each other to gain the content of the President. Some of these bodies are: State Security, Political Security, General Intelligence, Military Intelligence, Air Forces Intelligence, etc. For more than four decades, the regime has also enforced ‘emergency law’ – a law that facilitates and legalises the violation of Human Rights. In practice, it is still applied though it has been, theoretically, cancelled several months ago.
It is a security-oriented military regime that knows nothing but violence and bargaining as means of communicating with others: people and countries. Past years and decades witnessed so many extreme violations of basic human rights, in quantity and in quality: surveillance, privacy violation, detentions, systematic torture, Tadmur massacre, Aleppo massacre, Hamah massacre , etc.
The Outbreak of the Syrian Revolution
About a year ago the Syrian people started their uprising encouraged by what they witnessed in Tunisia, Egypt and later Libya, breaking the ‘barrier of fear’ in a country which was called the ‘Kingdom of Silence’. The revolution was encountered by extreme repression that crossed many lines which mounted, nowadays, to shelling populated areas with mortars, tank artilleries, and ground missiles. The casualties, currently, have reached 8,000 in addition to tens of thousands of wounded and a lot more detainees. The worst consequence of this extreme violence and crackdown is the shift of a considerable part of the uprising to a poorly organised armed rebellion, after they have adapted and were committed, for several months, to a peaceful struggle as well as the spread of a negative Islamic tendency, especially among the armed rebels as a result of all their disappointments with ongoing extreme suppression and the inability of the political efforts of the international community and the outside opposition to put an end to their suffering.
The Attitude of Christians
Statistics estimated the Syrian Christians to be between 5-10% of the population, divided into several churches: Eastern Orthodox, the majority, Eastern Catholic and limited numbers of Latin and Anglican churches. The majority of the Christians back the current regime in spite of what has taken place and is currently taking place. Only a minority of Christians stand on the other side and support the rebels in their demands and take part in their struggle especially the peaceful one.
Those who support the regime have different motives. Some have Islam-phobia – Islam here is exclusively the Sunni Islam . Others, mainly the youth, have been brought up and their awareness of their country was formed while Bashar Al Assad was in power. They were impressed by the image in which this president was presented: young, modern, open-minded, studied in the west, has a beautiful and active wife, etc. The attitude of this group of Christians was a result of their ignorance of the true history of Syria. The history that has been taught to them in schools and universities through official curricula, shows that the history of Syria has almost started with Al Baath party and Al Assad family. Moreover, there are Christian supporters, mainly businessmen who back the regime for financial benefits.
Finally, part of the group known as ‘greyish’ or ‘sitting-on-the-fence’ that includes a considerable number of intellectual Christians who declare their neutrality in the current struggle as they cannot justify the brutality of regime’s actions, but at the same time, they secretly support it for different reasons, some of which are stated above.
On the other hand, there is a minority of Christians who stand with the uprising against the regime. Most of them have never been known as being politically organised or committed. They are generally educated people and most of them are seculars. Moreover, a good number of them do not hide being atheists or agnostics, though they are considered ‘socially’ Christians.
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