Wed

29

Jan

2014

Fr Georges Massouh: The Lamb Shall Defeat the Beast

Fr Georges Massouh is an Antiochian Orthodox priest and the director of the Christian Muslim Studies Center at Balamand University, Lebanon.  

Article courtesy of Notes on Arab Orthodoxy

 

 

Last week, Christians celebrated the "Week of Prayer for the Unity of Churches," during which they held various activities focusing on prayer for the restoration of the hoped-for unity, enacting the will of the Lord that they be one just as the Most Holy Trinity is one.

This year, the occasion was overshadowed by concerns on the ground.

Christians are under the difficult circumstances that Syria is going through, where Christians, alongside their Muslim fellow-citizens, are subjected to murder, slaughter, expulsion, kidnapping and rape. These things do not discriminate between Christian and Muslim or between Sunni and Alawite, Shiite, Ismaili and Druze, all victims of the blind hatred that makes no exceptions.

It goes without saying that Christians in Syria do not consider themselves greater or more important that their Muslim partners in the one nation. They find themselves in solidarity with all the people of Syria, in the calamities that they share and the strikes that fall upon all their heads. They are patient and pray at all times for the return of peace, stability and security to the land of their fathers and forefathers.

There is no doubt that Christians, when they pray for the unity of their churches, also pray for the unity of their nations and their societies and the consolidation of their bonds of affection and kinship, regardless of religion or ethnicity. Christianity and insularity are opposites that can never come together. Christianity is either a maker of peace and concord or it does not exist at all.

In this world unity on the religious or national level appears to be very difficult to realize because of human sins and moral failures. However, the blood of the righteous that is shed-- Christian, Muslim, atheist and agnostic-- is what creates unity in the world to come. What humankind cannot do, God does through His mercy and power. The innocent are God's pure ones, regardless of their religion, ideology or race.

Here we can make reference to the Revelation of John, where its writers says of the Kingdom, "Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more deathor mourning or crying or pain" (Revelation 21:3-4). This kingdom was not realized by anything other than the blood of Christ shed upon the cross, "Because you, O Lamb, were slain and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9). The Lamb was victorious over the beast and over those who behaved like the beast.


The two kidnapped bishops, who without a doubt are praying without cease for the Church and the nation, the captured nuns of Maaloula, who have no consolation save the power of the life-giving cross, and all those who have been kidnapped and unjustly detained who have no support save the the Help of those who Sorrow, the innocent victims whose blood cries out to their Creator, they are the ones brought together by the one, invisible Church, made by God alone. They also are the makers of the Syria of land, history, and shared future.

The Black Wind

Short documentary from Sama TV examining the suffering of Christians during the current conflict in Syria. In Arabic with English subtitles.


13 Comments

Wed

29

Jan

2014

Al-Qaeda bombing the Cherubim Monastery in Saidnaya

Foreign-backed militants continue attacks on a Christian town on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus, Press TV reports.

 

Militants targeted Cherubim Monastery, which is located on top of a mountain in Qalamoun region.

 

The armed militants continuously attack the monastery from Rankus village in an effort to reach and take over the town of Saidnaya.

 

On January 19, more than 100 Takfiri militants from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front and brigades of the so-called Free Syrian Army were killed during clashes with the Syrian army near the monastery.

 

Syrian troops also seized machineguns, rocket propelled grenades and types of weapons after the clashes.

 

Militants from surrounding areas increased their mortar attacks on Saidnaya following the defeat.

A shell hit a school while another fell in the vicinity of Saint George Monastery.

Saidnaya is a Christian town that houses some of the oldest convents on earth like the Convent of Our Lady. Its residents support the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

 

Some 1.8 million Christians reside in Syria, making up about 10 percent of the country’s population. The religious minority has been subjected to numerous attacks by extremist groups since the outbreak of violence in the country in March 2011.

 

In October 2013, the Syrian army managed to take back control of the ancient Christian town of Sadad, situated north of Damascus, from al-Qaeda-linked militants.

 

In September, members of the al-Nusra Front briefly took over the Christian village of Ma’loula, which is home to two of the oldest surviving monasteries in Syria. Syrian troops have managed to retake most areas of the village.


6 Comments

Wed

29

Jan

2014

Russia is interested in preventing the extinction of the Christian church in Syria

Christian exodus from Syria will become a civilization disaster for whole Middle East

Article via Voice of Russia and RIA Novosti

Speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian Parliament, Valentina Matviyenko hosted a meeting with Patriarch John X of Antioch during this his first official visit to Russia as Patriarch of Antioch.
Speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian Parliament, Valentina Matviyenko hosted a meeting with Patriarch John X of Antioch during this his first official visit to Russia as Patriarch of Antioch.

Russia is interested in preventing the extinction of the Christian church in Syria, the Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said Tuesday at a meeting with the Patriarch of Antioch and All The East John X. "The prospect of a complete exodus of Christians from Syria if such a thing is allowed, threatens to spread the process to other Middle Eastern countries - Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, this kind of scenario, in our view, would be a civilizational catastrophe for the entire Middle East.

Russia is interested in preventing the extinction of the Christian church in Syria

Our country is going to do its best to prevent this catastrophe "- said Matvienko, adding that half a million of Christians In Syria were forced to leave their homes, according to recent data.

 

Matvienko believes, the disappearance of the Christian church in Syria can lead to «the fatal transformation of historically developed nature of the region." She noted that Damascus should strive to maintain the country's principle of coexistence of different faiths.

 

Speaking of the international conference on the Syrian settlement "Geneva-2", the Federation Council speaker noted that Russia intends to continue its efforts to support the Geneva process and seek to connect "all sound forces of the world" to it. "Geneva-2" - is the first step to finding a peaceful resolution, a difficult, but crucial work in continuing the dialogue in search for a peaceful resolution of the conflict ", - said Matvienko.

 

In turn, Patriarch John X thanked Matviyenko for the support and reminded that the relationship between the two churches - the Russian Orthodox and the Antiochian - is historical in nature and established since the time when Russia adopted the Christian faith.

 

"This love and this bond between our two churches endured through centuries and passed different stages" - said the Patriarch. Original here

Russia studies steps towards overcoming crisis in Syria

Articles from ITAR-TASS

Russia is studying what secular authorities and churches can do in order to overcome the crisis in Syria and calm down the situation in the region - Russia's FM

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov receiving Patriarch John X
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov receiving Patriarch John X

Russia is studying what secular authorities and churches can do in order to overcome the crisis in Syria and calm down the situation in the region, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a meeting with Patriarch John X of Antioch on Wednesday.

 

“We value traditional relations between our churches. They help reach accord, which is indispensable in the world and in the Middle East,” Lavrov said.

 

Mikhail, first metropolitan of Rus, came from Syria, the minister said.

 

“Traditional interaction, friendship and brotherly relations between our churches are in demand as never before,” he said, adding that the Arab Spring events “affect the fate of Christians, who lived with Arabs in peace and accord over two thousand years”.

 

“Today the coexistence, friendship between Orthodox believers and Muslims are under serious tests. Thus, our dialogue is important to prevent the worse scenario,” Lavrov said.

Patriarch John X thanked Russia for its stance on Syria

Patriarch John X of Antioch has thanked Russia for the peace position that the country takes on the situation in Syria.

 

“Russia’s position on the Middle East, particularly on Syria and Lebanon, is especially important and it is based on the hard-and-fast guidelines,” the patriarch said at a meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday.

We note the importance of peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims and we stand for peace in the region,” the patriarch of Antioch said.


John X also praised Russia’s humanitarian supplies to Syria. “We’re distributing humanitarian aid to everyone without any difference - to Christians and Muslims. We note the importance of peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims and we stand for peace in the region,” the patriarch of Antioch said

His Beatitude Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, John X, visited the Embassy of Syria in Moscow
His Beatitude Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, John X, visited the Embassy of Syria in Moscow

Lavrov: "Russia does utmost to free metropolitan abducted in Syria"

“We deeply regret that problems Syria’s Christians are living through do not sidestep you,” Lavrov said

 

Russia does its utmost to release a metropolitan abducted in suburbs of the north Syrian city of Allepo last April, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in his opening remarks to a meeting with Patriarch John X of the Great City-of-God Antioch and all the East on Wednesday.

 

“We deeply regret that problems Syria’s Christians are living through do not sidestep you,” he said.

 

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia recalled earlier that the fate of two Christian hierarchs - Metropolitan Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo, brother of Patriarch John X, and Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo - remained unknown.

 

Moreover, Mother Superior Pelagia Sayyaf and nuns from the world-famous St Thekla convent in the Syrian village of Maaloula kidnapped last December have been still held hostage. Originals here and here


28 Comments

Tue

28

Jan

2014

Patriarch John X of Antioch visit to Russia

Common appeal to the Geneva II International Conference on Syria by His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Great Antioch and All the East and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia

Patriarch John X receives flowers from well-wishers during his visit to the Church of the Archangel Gabriel – the Representation of the Orthodox Church of Antioch in Moscow.
Patriarch John X receives flowers from well-wishers during his visit to the Church of the Archangel Gabriel – the Representation of the Orthodox Church of Antioch in Moscow.

On 26 January 2014, His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Great Antioch and All the East and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia made a joint statement addressed to the participants in the Geneva II International Conference on Syria. Taking part in the Conference are representatives of the opposing parties and the world community. The text of the Statement is given below.

We, Primates of fraternal Orthodox Churches, the Church of Antioch and the Russian Church, met in Moscow in order to once again bear witness to love in Christ, the love which our Churches have preserved intact through centuries and which is addressed to all people regardless their nationality, religion or political views.

 

Today our common prayers go to the long-suffering Syrian people undergoing unprecedented ordeals. The land, in which Muslims and Christians have lived together for centuries, has been filled with tears of those who are lamenting the death of their relatives and friends and who have been driven away from their homes. The calamity that has come to the once peaceful land spares neither old people nor children, neither Muslims nor Christians. No heart can remain indifferent to the horrible tragedy in Syria.

 

These days, Switzerland is hosting an international conference which gathered at the negotiating table representatives of the opposing parties and the world community. We address our ardent appeal to the participants in the meeting, asking them to exert every possible effort to end the bloodshed and restore peace in the blessed Syrian land.

 

We call upon the participants in the Geneva II International Conference on Syria to oppose any manifestation of extremism in order to put an end to the intolerance and the policy of ultimatums. It is only fraternal and free dialogue within the Syrian society that can open up the way to a peaceful settlement.

 

Once again, we appeal for the immediate release of the Christians who have been taken hostage in the armed conflict. Metropolitans Paul and Youhanna Ibrahim, Christian hierarchs from Aleppo, have been held captive for many months now. For over a month, sisters of the Convent of St Thecla in ancient Maaloula have been held hostage as well. We call upon all parties to show humaneness and mercy as an evidence of their intention to follow the way of re-establishing peace and prosperity in Syria.

 

The scale of the disaster makes us, Primates of the two Orthodox Churches, appeal to all people of good will and ask them to help those who are suffering in refugee camps or facing destitution after losing their homes and livelihood.

 

It is necessaryto stop the destruction of priceless cultural and religious heritage sites that the Syrian land is so rich in. Their destruction is a crime against future generations.

 

We believe that the All-Merciful Lord will show His mercy to the people of Syria and will strengthen and bless those who are striving to restore peace and prosperity in this ancient and holy land. Original here


3 Comments

Mon

27

Jan

2014

The Lie of Geneva

Links to support the above graphic:

 

The interview given by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva, Switzerland to the Saudi media outlet Al-Arabiya in which he lied about the protection of minorities in Syria can be read here.

 

A video interview broadcast on the Saudi media outlet, Al-Arabiya, in which a captured ISIS al-Qaeda (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) fighter states that the brother of the Saudi Foreign Minister, “Prince Abdulrahman al-Faisal” is the one giving the commands to ISIS in Syria can be viewed here.


A video of US Ambassador Robert Ford in Aleppo province with FSA (“Free” Syrian Army) Col Abdul Jabbar al-Okaidi then head of the Aleppo Military Council can be seen here.

 

A video in which FSA head of Aleppo's Military Council Abdul Jabbar al-Oqaidi can be seen next to al-Qaeda ISIS emir Abu Jandal after the armed groups FSA/ISIS/Islamist groups jointly captured Minnigh military airport. View here.

 

A video of al-Qaeda ISIS emir Abu Jandal after he beheaded a Syrian government solider in a village in southern rural Aleppo and in which he vows to behead everyone who is an enemy of God can be seen here.


Information regarding the destruction of Churches in Raqqa by al-Qaeda ISIS can be found here and here. Information about their imposition on Christians of Saudi medieval style Sharia law can be found here.


69 Comments

Mon

27

Jan

2014

Syria's Christians In Deadly Battle With Islamist Persecution

As Syria's civil war rages, Christians, who make up one-tenth of the population, are being driven out. But in the Northeast, hand-in-hand with the Kurds, one group are beating back the Islamists' advance. 

"They said they'd chop our heads off if we stayed. They said we were supporting the regime and they burnt one of my cousins." Mohammed Jelloud, a local Arab man, says of the oppression of rebel groups with ties to Al Qaeda. But now the Kurds have taken this region, which is split between Christians, Muslims and Kurds. For the Christians, the most vulnerable group, it is a godsend. Elsewhere in the country an estimated 450,000 have been displaced. "The extremists said the Christians and the Kurds were infidels and had to be killed!" Mahjoub, an elderly Christian, explains as he reveals the devastation wrought on an Orthodox church. This fanaticism is why so many Christians oppose the revolution, fearing it is controlled by radical and foreign interests. Now under Kurdish leadership, a fragile but tolerant haven has opened up here. Fadi, a young Christian, has thrown his lot in with the Kurdish police, because they offer a freedom that no one else can. "I have come to work with them because they are working to secure my lifestyle. I just want to have freedom."

Balint Szlank

Source: Journeyman Pictures


3 Comments

Mon

27

Jan

2014

Maaloula Nun Captors Seek Release of All Islamist Prisoners in Roumieh

Article from the Lebanese daily newspaper Al Akhbar

As negotiations were underway to release the Maaloula nuns held in a palace in the Damascus countryside, their kidnappers raised impossible demands, taking the case back to square one.

Informed sources told Al-Akhbar that ongoing negotiations to procure the release of the Maaloula nuns kidnapped by al-Nusra Front and held in the Syrian city of Yabroud close to the Lebanese border have been deadlocked since December 6. The sources also pointed to an unwelcome development regarding the fate of one of the two bishops, Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazigi, who were kidnapped in Aleppo about eight months ago.

 

The sources pointed out that a non-Syrian official in the group holding the nuns had expressed a desire to quickly resolve this issue before another official from the same group stepped in, slowing the process and making additional demands.

 

The sources said three parties are working to reach an agreement with the kidnappers. The first and most serious party is a global organization that has strong influence in Syria these days. The second party is a coordinating group that includes Lebanon, Qatar, and Turkey. The last party is a Syrian businessman who has strong ties to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad but also wields influence on the ground in Yabroud. Read the full article here


3 Comments

Thu

23

Jan

2014

Geneva II - World Council of Churches Ecumenical Consultation on Syria

Ahead of Geneva II, representatives of WCC member churches and the Holy See call for a just peace in Syria. Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations-Arab League joint representative for Syria, met with the group and affirmed the role of the churches to “mobilize international opinion, to condemn all that is bad in this situation and to support all that is good now.” Brahimi will deliver a message to the Geneva II talks stating that there needs to be “immediate cessation of all armed confrontation and hostility within Syria”, thus ensuring that “all vulnerable communities in Syria and refugees in neighbouring countries receive appropriate humanitarian assistance” and that “a comprehensive and inclusive process toward establishing a just peace and rebuilding Syria” should be developed.

 

The WCC statement for Geneva 2 talks on Syria can be read here

 


3 Comments

Thu

23

Jan

2014

Holy See Address to UN Debate on Situation in Middle East

"The Holy See pledges to continue to work alongside those alleviating the suffering of all marginalized, uprooted and oppressed by conflict."

Residents in the Homs suburb of Zahra view a commemorative wall display with images of some of the many thousands of city residents who were killed by armed rebels. Over 80,000 Christian residents left the city.
Residents in the Homs suburb of Zahra view a commemorative wall display with images of some of the many thousands of city residents who were killed by armed rebels. Over 80,000 Christian residents left the city.

Extract:

“Many of these refugees constitute a worrying exodus of Christians from their bi-millennial homelands owing, among other causes, to the targeting and instability visited upon them by fundamentalist and extremist forces. Interreligious dialogue and reconciliation will be required, thus, to restore the balance in the rich and complex pluralism of Syrian society. The Holy See stands ready to support all religious communities in their efforts to reach new understandings and the restoration of trust after these years of violence, revenge and recrimination.”

 

Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN in the Security Council Open Debate on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question” (New York, 20 January 2014) Read the full statement here

 


3 Comments

Wed

22

Jan

2014

“What we are facing is the biggest threat to our survival as Christians in the Middle East”

Syriac Catholic Patriarch, Ignatius Joseph III Yonan, on first ever pastoral visit to Australia speaks about the situation in Syria.


3 Comments

Sat

04

Jan

2014

Aleppo Devastated

Letter from Archbishop Jean-Clément Jeanbart Melkite Archbishop of Aleppo.

Translated from French from the website of the French Catholic NGO L’Œuvre d’Orient

Dear friend,

 

I don't know if the city of Aleppo has or has not been declared a "Disaster city" by international bodies! What I can say myself is that it is indeed a disaster. A humanitarian, material and economic disaster!  

 

The residents of this great seven thousand year old metropolis are found after three years of senseless war, in a disastrous situation. The prosperity that distinguished Aleppo to place it among the most cities prominent in the region has lost all its brilliance. The incalculable damage that destroyed factories and thriving industry, its infrastructure, social and administrative institutions, commerce  and its  legendary  souks, its ancient houses, schools and hospitals have been reduced to poverty and depleted the population in a worrying and dramatic way.


Can we now talk about all the annoyances that make the Aleppins suffer these days due to the unprecedented siege that the rebels have imposed for almost two months? The lack of supplies has created a shortage of food and a large number of necessities...


In a Word, our population suffers and innocently suffers the after-effects of an unjust and devastating war.

 

 A before and after view of St. Gevorg’s (George) Armenian Orthodox Church in Aleppo which was petrol bombed by FSA ("Free" Syrian Army) rebel terrorists last October 2012. The church library was also destroyed in the attack. Click to enlarge.
A before and after view of St. Gevorg’s (George) Armenian Orthodox Church in Aleppo which was petrol bombed by FSA ("Free" Syrian Army) rebel terrorists last October 2012. The church library was also destroyed in the attack. Click to enlarge.

Am I allowed to speak of our Archdiocese which has been these last months the target of projectiles of all kinds which have damaged our buildings and that put us, my clergy and myself in great danger. I lament then a great misfortune which has hit a good number of the inhabitants of this city we all love. On several occasions our apartments have suffered extensive damage, but I consider it insignificant, seeing what the city has endured... May the Lord have mercy on us and allow peace to be established in the country.

Jack Salloum who was killed by shrapnel when two mortar rockets, fired by rebels, fell close to where he and other boys were waiting for a bus to collect them and bring them to catechism lessons.  Several children were injured.
Jack Salloum who was killed by shrapnel when two mortar rockets, fired by rebels, fell close to where he and other boys were waiting for a bus to collect them and bring them to catechism lessons. Several children were injured.

Is this a good way to contact friends on the occasion of the festivities of Christmas and new year? Who other than you, my beloved, I entrust my concerns and tell my suffering in these days which leads the world each year to joy and comfort but unfortunately give suffering and bitterness. Christmas for the faithful of Aleppo, brings hope and consolation with the coming of the newborn Savior, it remained still a feast that we celebrate with joy and one that  softens our bitterness. I would like on this occasion to say to all those who believe in us, continue to support us and to pray with us and to stop this destructive scourge, which reminds us of the great barbarian invasions of the middle ages and that the greed of the big nations will be settled. This will allow, without any doubt, the poor Syrians to find tranquility and serenity necessary for dialogue, which alone is capable of carrying out a most needed agreement and national reconciliation!

I wish, dear friend, to tell you here that I love you with all  my heart, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a good new year, without forgetting to thank you for your kindness and for the generosity with which you kindly help us. With my gratitude and my deep gratitude, please accept the expression of my best feelings. Original in French here

 

+ J- C.JEANBART

Aleppo: public flogging for failure to observe Friday prayers

Member of the Islamist Ahrar ash-Sham publically lash two men in Aleppo, the punishment for those who trade (buy or sell) in the city while Friday Prayers are in progress. Ahrar ash-Sham is a part of the Islamic Front grouping of rebels, which was formed in November 2013 and is defacto lead by Saudi Arabia. Western media attempts to portray these militants as "more moderate" because they are not directly connected with Al Qaeda although they share the same ideology. The Islamic Front is a merger of seven rebel groups announced on 22 November 2013. Harakat Ahrar ash-Sham Al Islami means “Islamic Movement of the Free Men of the Levant” and is itself a collection of Islamist and Salafist -Takfiri armed groups whose units combined to form one brigade.

 


22 Comments

Sat

04

Jan

2014

Lebanon Loses 78000 Books To Terrorism: Tripoli’s “Al Sa’eh” Library Burned

A decades-old library owned by an Antiochian Orthodox priest, Father Ibrahim Surouj, in Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli was torched late Friday.

Note: Lebanon’s northern City of Tripoli has been polarised as a result of the Syrian Conflict. The city has long become a centre for radical Salafi Islamist activity and many takfiri fighters from the city have gone to fight with the opposition in Syria.

Article by Elie Fares “A Seperate State of Mind” Blog

2014 is off to a horrible start in Lebanon. The explosion that took place in Beirut yesterday, in the year’s first few days, has been paralleled by another act of terrorism in Lebanon’s northern capital, where extremist gunmen torched the city’s biggest library, Lebanon’s second, burning it to the ground.

 

They accused the priest running the library, a man who has been fighting to keep that place alive against contractors who worked to dismantle the building in which it resided, of publishing an article that offends Islam. I guess offenses are in the eye of the beholder. In this case, the eyes are for illiterate people who can’t read and who don’t know the value of a book.


The country is burning, let’s not worry about a library. A lot of people might say that. But the library in question was a true national treasure, containing 78000 books, many of which exist in very few copies and many of which are, ironically, books about Islam. I’m also sure the library contained Qurans. Father Ibrahim Sarrouj, the library’s curator, has lived in Tripoli all his life and is known to being an encompassing person of the city’s diversity.

 

Father Ibrahim Surouj and his library
Father Ibrahim Surouj and his library

Tripoli cannot sit out the ongoing tragedies blowing through Lebanon lately. We just lost 78,000 books. We have lost many innocent lives as well over the past few days. And for the sake of what? Wars that we have nothing to do with, being fought over our territory, by people who have gone through a few cycles of brain washing in order to get them to believe that killing innocent people whose lives are well ahead of them or burning down a library will bring them favors with their own version of god and prophet.

Then you have those who believe that the actions of those gunmen reflect what the people of Tripoli believe in and who proclaim things as such to the ears that would listen. The fact of the matter is, however, is that the people of Tripoli are more afraid of those gunmen than we are. They are more afraid of the havoc they are bringing to their city than we are. They are more worried about the repercussions of their actions on the fabrics of their society than we give them credit for. They are wary of how their city has changed in such few days. They are terrified of the cultural demise that their home city is witnessing. They care about these books, the library and the priest who ran it. They are people who are worthy of having such a library to their name. They are the people whose city just lost its biggest library and who are gathering around its remnants crying their eyes out at how things turned out for the place they call home: a pile of rubble of a place that was once great.

 

I’m not Muslim but I’m more Muslim than the lunatics who torched that library and so are most of the people of Tripoli that many Lebanese love to dismiss so easily.

 

Tonight, I have been robbed of being able to visit such a place again and again by men who know no religion, no god and no alphabet. 

Antiochian Orthodox Archbishop Efram Kyriakos said if the criminals are not arrested similar attacks will take place against Christians in the region.


A page on Facebook "The lions of Sunni's in Tripoli" claimed that they burned down a house of infidals. The library was one of the oldest and historical libraries in Lebanon.
A page on Facebook "The lions of Sunni's in Tripoli" claimed that they burned down a house of infidals. The library was one of the oldest and historical libraries in Lebanon.

Tonight, the entire country was robbed of a wealth of knowledge that we had probably taken for granted. Who ever thought a library would be targeted in a terrorist attack?

 

Tonight, I’m livid and you should be. It’s not just about books. It’s about living in a place where two explosions taking place within a week, followed by such an act, are now considered normal. It’s about living in a place where you’re expected to move on from everything like it was nothing because that’s the only way forward. It’s about living in a place where you’re forced to forget about the lives lost, the books burned and the cities ruined just because it’s what we do.

 

Tonight, my thoughts go to Tripoli, the city that I miss and to its people that I hold dear. May they rebuild the library, restock its shelves with what they can and get rid of their streets of the infestation springing out and about. I try to be optimistic because that’s the only thing I can try to do. Tonight has been a sad night indeed. Original here

No one intervened to stop it

From the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar: "Sources told Al-Akhbar that Salafi young men in the library’s neighborhood spread a rumor about finding a book insulting Prophet Mohammad that Sarrouj was intending to reprint. Unknown assailants later shot an employee working for Sarrouj in the foot. Then, during the night, the library was set on fire, and no one intervened to stop it". Read the full article here

 

People of Tripoli donating books to the library which was burnt by the radicals.

Photo via Yeghig Tashjian, Facebook group   The New Eastern Politics
Photo via Yeghig Tashjian, Facebook group The New Eastern Politics

Tripoli’s Scouts launch a campaign to help replace the lost books

 

The CJC group "Les Scouts du Liban- Groupe CJC Tripoli" based is St. Maron Church- Tripoli, is launching a campaign to collect books and donate them to Père Sarrouj, the owner of the library, so that this historical library opens again as soon as possible.


8 Comments

Sat

04

Jan

2014

For Some Syrian Christian Refugees, Christmas a Sorrowful Time

Article by Dale Gavlak from the Catholic Near East Welfare Association

AMMAN, Jordan (CNS) — Some Syrian Christian refugees taking shelter in neighboring Jordan did not have a happy Christmas, fearful for their uncertain future as the violent conflict in their homeland grinds on past 33 months with no end in sight.

 

“Just see how Christians in Iraq were targeted on our sacred holiday, Christmas Day, in Baghdad,” said Abu Reda, referring to bomb blasts that left at least 37 dead.

 

The 30-year-old Catholic entrepreneur once ran a successful beverage business in a suburb of the Syrian capital, Damascus, but now collects plastic containers from the streets to sell just to feed his family in exile.

 

He and his family of four huddled in front of a TV that broadcast Christmas programs over a Christian satellite channel in a cold, sparsely furnished apartment in the Jordanian capital. He used a familial name, rather than his given name, to protect relatives still in Syria.

 

A pair of calendars for the coming year with pictures of Jesus and the Holy Family adorned the otherwise bare living room walls. There was no Christmas tree in sight.

 

“Christians are being targeted in Syria. I was one and that’s why we fled here,” said Abu Reda. Islamist extremists’ repeated threats of kidnapping and death forced Abu Reda and his family to flee about a year ago. The final straw was the killing of a cousin by extremists and the destruction of a family home. Fighters from the Nusra Front, an Islamist militant group linked to the al Qaeda network, began putting messages on his shop’s door and later on his home. “Selling alcohol is forbidden,” the messages read. “We consider your money to be ours and we’ll turn your wife and children into our slaves.” Shortly afterward, Islamist rebels kidnapped his father and held him for 15 days until the area where he was being held was overtaken by the Syrian government military, which released him. Later, a cousin was kidnapped. The family was given too short a time to collect the ransom money, he said, and the man was killed.

 

Although Abu Reda discovered that at least two men threatening him were former employees, reports to the Syrian government security services did nothing to stop the threats. “The men warned me, ‘We will follow you wherever you go in Syria,’ “ he said. “We knew we had to leave because of the lack of central control and chaos now reigning in the country,” he added. Abu Reda’s wife sobbed as she recalled the events. “We are far away from our family at this Christmas. It is difficult. We want Christians to return to Syria as well as peace to come again to our homeland,” she said.

 

Unlike in other Middle Eastern countries, in Jordan, Christians from Western and Eastern traditions tend to celebrate Christmas together on 25 December, according to the Gregorian calendar. Likewise, Jordanian Christians from both traditions celebrate Easter together, according to Julian calendar. 

“It’s my hope and that of other Syrian Christians in exile to be allowed to settle in the West, at least for the sake of our children’s future.

Abu Reda said he was grateful to the international Catholic charity Caritas and several Jordanian priests for practical help, including a space heater and other household basics. He praised the Franciscan Sisters for educational assistance to his 8-year-old daughter, Angie, and for providing his family with some basic furniture and a rug to help ward off the bitter winter cold in the apartment.

 

“My daughter refused to go to a Jordanian public school after they tried to make her wear the hijab,” he said, referring to the headscarf worn by women in the Islamic tradition. “I appealed to our priest and now she attends a Roman Catholic school in Amman and is much happier. “As with other Syrians, I am used to working hard for a living. My money is running out. I am not permitted to work legally in Jordan,” Abu Reda said. “It’s my hope and that of other Syrian Christians in exile to be allowed to settle in the West, at least for the sake of our children’s future. “Still as Christians, our hope is always in Jesus Christ, whom we trust will give us the strength to get through these very tough times,” he said. Original here


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As-Salaam-Alaikum

Petition to Journalists asking for responsible and accountable reporting on Syria. Please sign

H.E. The Sunni Grand Mufti of Syria, Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun - I am the Mufti of all Syrians – Sunni Muslims, Christians, Alawites, Druze – of all the diversity of sects we had before the war. There is no choice other than reconciliation."

H.B. John X Yazigi, Antiochian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch -

The Antiochian Orthodox Patriarch in Syria, John Yazigi, says Syrian Christians "will not submit and yield" to foreign-backed extremist militants who attack "our people and holy places."

H.E. Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani, Sunni Grand Mufti of Lebanon - “Christians’ fears nowadays over their presence and their dignity in the Middle East are right and justified”

H.B Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch - The West and other countries are helping to foment conflict in the Middle East "there is a plan to destroy the Arab world for political and economic