NOTE: Tomorrow, 11 May, is a special day of prayer for Syria.
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As the civil war intensifies in Syria, Christians are increasingly more vulnerable to the violence. While all Syrians are suffering, Christians in particular are targeted. In the fight for Islam, Jihadi’s from abroad have come to Syria to ‘fight for Islam.’ In some areas of Homs and Aleppo, neighborhoods have been taken over by extremists and are now ruled by Islamic Sharia law.
Contacts in Syria have seen people walking around without hands, presumably punished for stealing. Christians are considered infidels in the eyes of these extremists. Christian refugees told us that they often hear statements that they are not welcome in Syria any longer. A pastor from Tartus shares, “We are second class citizens or we have to convert to Islam.”
In the past, the Christian community was somewhat protected by the government. These days, however, neither the government nor the opposition army is defending them. They have become “soft targets” for criminals. Unprotected Christian stores are robbed. Also, if a Christian is seen as wealthy or as having wealthy relatives in the West, their chances of being kidnaped increases. A refugee reports that, “Criminals see an opportunity to kidnap us for money. For a Christian they ask more ransom than for a Muslim.”
Christians in Syria are caught in the crossfire between the two armies. “We tell everybody that we focus on our spiritual mission; we are on no side in the battle. But still, we are seen as pro-government,” shares a pastor from Damascus. Most Christians try to stay neutral, but this is not accepted: Taking no side is seen as taking the wrong side. In some areas, Christian men are being forced by to join in the fighting. In addition, there are reports that Christians are forced to leave their houses, leaving these families homeless. A refugee said that in his neighborhood, Christians alone were evicted, “Only Christians; they stole our homes, they tore down our buildings.”
One With Them
In a special day of unity, war-weary Syrian Christians are uniting in prayer on May 11. They are asking that you stand One With Them in prayer, click here for more information.