Syria’s Greek Orthodox patriarch and the head of a convent have confirmed recent reports that Syrian rebels have abducted 12 nuns from Maaloula, a Christian village near Damascus. With violence against believers on the rise in Syria, church leaders are increasingly concerned about the future.
Reverend Nadim Nassar is an Anglican priest from Syria. He says that Christians and Muslims were living peacefully together before the conflict began. “Of course,” he adds, “the whole country was suffering under corruption, economic pressure and international pressure; we are not saying that the country was in an ideal situation.”
But today he says that Christians are suffering horribly – abused by both the regime and extremist rebel forces. “This is another blow to the Christian community in Syria,” he says, speaking of the kidnapping. “Hundreds of thousands of Christians were displaced from their homes, a lot of Christians were killed. We still have two bishops missing from Aleppo, we don’t know anything about them. Now there is another attack on the Christian community in Syria, and the world is watching. This is shocking for us.”
Reverend Nassar says that many Christians and Muslims share a vision for a secular government that promotes freedom and respect for all religions. “The question for us Christians and other minorities, as well as for Muslims in general, we all want to see a new Syria emerging as a secular country that can respect the fabric of the society and the Syrian society is in its essence diverse,” he says.