March 9, 2012
The Los Angeles Times reports that Syrian Christians fear a civil war and sectarian violence if President Bashar Assad is ousted from office after an increasingly bloody, nearly year-long uprising against his regime. Despite Assad's autocratic rule, he portrayed himself as a defender of the nation's religious minorities, and Christians enjoyed a certain sense of security under his government. "If the regime goes, you can forget about Christians in Syria," said George, a 37-year-old Syrian dentist who withheld his last name for security reasons. "Look what happened to the Christians of Iraq. They had to flee everywhere, while most of the churches were attacked and bombed." The rise of Islamist parties in post-revolutionary Egypt and Tunisia has also fueled the fear of Syrians. "Of course the 'Arab Spring' is an Islamist movement," George said. "It's full of extremists. They want to destroy our country, and they call it a 'revolution.'" Syrian Christians make up just 10 percent of the country's population of 22 million.