While church leaders pledge their support for the Assad regime, Christians in Syria are backing the protest movement for democratic change. The endorsement of the regime’s propaganda slogans by the representatives of the churches puts them in an increasingly precarious position, as Claudia Mende reports.
In their official statements the representatives of Syria’s churches have, to date, announced that they support the regime of Bashar al-Assad. In interviews with the European media the bishops declared their sympathy for the government and expressed little understanding for the motives behind the protest movement.
Elias Tabe, the Syrian Catholic Bishop of Damascus, told the Italian news agency SIR: “What has been going on in Syria for weeks is a plot hatched by some external force; an attempt at clear neo-colonialism by Islamic fundamentalists, Wahhabis from Saudi Arabia, from Qatar.”
Antoine Audo, the Syrian Catholic Bishop of Aleppo, spoke in a similar vein in an interview with the magazine of the English organization Aid to the Church in Need: “The fanatics [the protest movement – Ed.] speak about freedom and democracy for Syria, but this is not their goal. They want to divide the Arab countries, control them, seize oil and sell arms. They seek destabilization and Islamization. Syria must resist – will resist. 80 percent of the people are behind the government, as are all the Christians.”