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Melkite Archbishop Urges British Not to Support Militants in Syria

14 Oct 2015 – By Simon Caldwell

LONDON (CNS) — A Syrian archbishop warned British politicians of the folly of supporting Islamic militants in the war in his country.

Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart of Aleppo said that for the past 60 years, Syria has strived to become a modern secular state. Western support for militants against Syrian President Bashar al Assad would destroy all such progress, he said at an 13 October meeting in the House of Lords organized by Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charity helping persecuted Christians.

Christians in his country were instead supportive of Russian military intervention because it gave them fresh hope that the four-year war would end in a solution favorable to them, he told British politicians and Christian leaders at the meeting.

British Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood disagreed with the archbishop’s analysis, telling the meeting that the conflict would continue until Assad stepped down.

During his speech, Archbishop Jeanbart said militants were ”killing anyone who is saying anything about freedom, about citizenship, about religious liberty, about democracy.”

“Please, I ask you, I beseech you to have another look at our situation to see what is underneath, what is happening,” the archbishop said.

“It is terrible for us to see all the marvelous things we had destroyed for pretend democracy and freedom,” he said.

“Our country was fighting for 50-60 years to become a secularist regime, a pluralistic country, to give citizens their rights of religion and freedom of choice … and you are destroying this work and pushing on us fundamental jihadis who want to kill everyone who is not similar to them.

“They don’t accept anyone who is different,” Archbishop Jeanbart said. ”Anyone who is not a fundamentalist Muslim has no rights — no right to live, no right to be in society, no right to be a citizen.”

The archbishop told the meeting that Syrian Christians are suffering because rebels ”have destroyed everything — our economy, our industry, our churches, everything.”

“The most important thing we are suffering from is that they are destroying man. They are taking away our right to choose what we want to be.”

Archbishop Jeanbart said he was pleased to have the chance to speak directly to British politicians because Syria was being isolated and that news from the country was being ”manipulated in an unacceptable way.”

The perception that moderate rebel forces were fighting the government to win freedom and democracy was a ”big lie,” the archbishop told the meeting, adding that the war was waged between a modern secular state tolerant of religious minorities and jihadi groups who were massacring them.

He said Islamist rebel groups, who go under a variety of names, had slaughtered more than 50 Christians within the last month alone, most recently shooting dead three Assyrian Christians after a ransom for their lives was not paid.





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Tags: Syria War Russia Melkite Greek Catholic Church United Kingdom