Treatment of Christians in Assad's Syria vs in US-backed 'Rebel' Areas
by Janice Kortkamp
We want to thank Janice Kortkamp who has traveled around Syria for several months during the past two years for this inspiring post. Her report paints a totally different picture from what the United States government and our mainstream media tells us about what is happening to Christians in Syria.
Janice began researching Syria and the war in 2012 and has put in well over 6,000 hours in research. She has made hundreds of contacts in Syria also ex-pat Syrians in several other countries. Also, she has made four trips in 2016-2017, each almost one month long that included: Traveled to Damascus (inc. Ma’aloula and Saidnaya), Homs (inc. Valley of the Christians and villages in the countryside near Masyaf), Lattakia (inc. Ugarit, Slonfeh, Kessab), Tartous (inc. Amrit, Arwad) Aleppo, Palmyra, and Deir Ezzor (inc. Al Mayadeen).
During her travels, she met with: Soldiers, doctors, lawyers, scientists, artists, musicians, community and government leaders, professors, teachers, students, displaced persons, religious leaders, businessmen, housewives, children – from all major religious groups. She met with refugees and immigrants from Syria in Germany, Lebanon, Kuwait and America; as well as internally displaced persons in Syria from Aleppo, Idlib, Deir Ezzor, Raqqa, Al Mayadeen and other areas of Syria.
Janice describes herself as “100% independent and self-funded thru my husband and some donations from friends and family.” [Ed.-TEC]
On this Palm Sunday for western churches, allow me to compare and contrast Christianity in Syria vs Christianity in US-backed “rebel” held areas of Syria.
Some of these pics are from my own travels around Syria the past two years.
In government held areas of Syria (about 85% of the population is in these areas):
– The government of Syria is secular; its constitution protects all religions. The population of Syria is 90% Muslim. Sunnis are the majority, over 70%. The rest are various sects like Alawites, traditional Shiite, Druze, Ismailis, Sufis etc. Before the war, Christians made up about 10%. Now it’s possible half are gone. The president is mandated to be Muslim in the constitution and there are many who would like that changed, but that is a matter only for the Syrian people to decide.
– There are hundreds if not over a thousand churches in Syria. Eastern Orthodox and Catholic primarily but also all major Protestant denominations. Churches and mosques sit comfortably side by side.
– Easter is a national holiday in Syria. The government and businesses are closed.
– Many Muslims attend Easter services and celebrations with their Christian friends. Everywhere around government controlled Syria you will see Easter parades and events.
– The Syrian Arab Army is also secular. Muslims and Christians fight side by side against the US supported terrorist groups. Many thousands of Muslim soldiers, including some Hezbollah and Iranian fighters, have died protecting Christian areas and populations. Christians have died protecting their Muslim brothers.
– Christians are in every level of leadership and society in Syria. The current head of Parliament is Christian.
– The Christians of Syria, virtually all, stand with their president and army against the “rebel” terrorists who have targeted them for expulsion and often execution. I have met with many Christians there, leaders and just regular folks. They’ve all said the same. One young Christian lady asked me, on a Palm Sunday when I was there, “Why do Americans want us all dead?” The great majority of Muslims also stand with their president and army including the majority of Sunnis.
– President Assad recently spoke with a group of Christian youth. He said, “Christians are not guests or migrating birds. They are from the origins of the nation and without them, there is no Syria.” He and his wife visit Christian towns, villages, orphanages, churches etc often.
– Christian and Muslim leaders meet regularly together.
– In areas that have been liberated by the Syrian Army from US supported terrorist “rebels”, churches are being rebuilt and reopened.
In areas where US supported “rebels” are still in control:
– Christians have been executed, often by beheading, or driven out of their homes. “Rebels” have kidnapped, tortured, and killed priests and nuns. They’ve massacred whole Christian villages. Any Christians who’ve tried to stay in their homes under the terrorists’ rule are required to pay a special tax and are the victims of abuse and persecution.
– There is no religious tolerance in “rebel” held areas of Syria. No operating churches, in fact they are often burned and destroyed by the “rebels”.
Gathering of religious and government leaders
Meeting with Pastor Ibrahim in Aleppo, April 2017
President and Mrs. Assad visiting the orphanage in Ma’aloula, an ancient Christian village, on Easter before the war
Ma’aloula is rebuilding after being liberated from US backed “rebels” fighting alongside al Qaeda. The “rebels” killed many townspeople but most were able to escape. The “rebels” looted and burned the churches there.
Easter week in Ma’aloula in April of 2017 as the town was preparing for an Easter parade.
This wonderful man sang The Lord’s Prayer for us in Aramaic in Ma’aloula.
A man of Ma’aloula who joined the town’s militia to protect it.
Christian soldier in the Syrian Arab Army.
This mortar fell on a small Christian school. The “rebels” often fired mortars into civilian areas of Damascus. Each one is filled with shrapnel and kill many people.
An ancient Christian manuscript preserved in the Al Assad Library, Damascus
Orphanage in Damascus
This gate commemorates where the Apostle Paul was lowered over the Damascus wall.
An orphanage and elderly/special needs care facility in Damascus
Orphanage in Damascus
President and Mrs. Assad visited Saidnaya Convent recently.
President and Mrs. Assad in a church during the Christmas season about 2 years ago.
During the renovation of a church in Old Homs, May 2016
Inside a church in Old Homs
Father Frans van der Lugt was murdered by al Qaeda “rebels” in Old Homs shortly before the city was liberated by the Syrian Army.
In Ma’aloula in May 2016 surveying damage done by “rebels” to a church there.