By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos
We are following whatever comes to light from the war occurring in Syria. Whatever is going on there is presented as a civil war, but in actuality other external powers are involved, that want to have influence in the region. On one side is Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and on the other side is Russia, Iran and China. Clearly we have here a geopolitical crisis, because Syria is in a critical area where many nations have interests.
However, that which escapes the attention of many is that in Syria there is a massacre of the Christian population. Recently there came to light the disclosure of the fact of the abduction of the Orthodox Metropolitan Paul and the Syro-Jacobite Metropolitan John-Ibrahim. It is a sad fact that shows the savage face of war in the region and its consequences. Yet, the problems are even worse for Christians.
Stathis Efstathiades ("To Vima tis Kyriakis" 05/19/2013) gives us important information and I will quote it below:
From a bulletin of the Commission of the EU on April 16 we are informed that the number of Christians that have been killed, murdered or are missing "it is believed to have surpassed 1,220". A Syro-Orthodox Clergyman of Amman (Monophysite) told the Arabic CNN that "we have a persecution equivalent to the massacre of Diocletian". He continued: "Those who did not manage to leave will have the fate of our fellow Orthodox in Iraq".
And because there is mention of the Christians in Iraq, we should record the statements of Nina Sia who is the spokeswoman for the American Commission on Human Rights, according to whom that during the two-year period of 2012-2013 in Iraq "a total 2,310 Iraqis, members of religious minorities of which Christians are the majority, were murdered, strangled and disappeared". Also, on Christmas in 2012 "there was not one church to liturgize", since they had been burned and destroyed, while most of the Clergy fled Iraq or went into hiding "because they are and remain the main target of Islamists". And these things are happening in Iraq after May of 2005, when the war "officially" ended. It seems that "there has begun an organized, systematic persecution of Iraqi Christians".
This year, which is 1700 years since the Edict of Milan (313 A.D.), which established freedom of religion in the Roman Empire, there are occurring terrible persecutions against Christians (Orthodox, Monophysite), who are being decapitated and killed, religious freedoms are being overturned and violence and inhumanity have returned.
Whatever is happening in Syria, in Iraq and in the eastern Nations, unfortunately is being done with the assistance, tolerance and participation of western Christian Nations, because above all there are economic factors.
And what are we Orthodox Christians to do? How do we react? Are we moved by the plight of our brethren? Does their drama concern us? Are we praying for them? Pained?
Source: Paremvasis, "Οι διωγμοί τών Χριστιανών στήν Συρία", May 2013. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.