Syria: "The departure of the Assad regime and a new government in Syria run by extremist Salafists, al-Qa'ida or the Muslim Brotherhood is a daunting prospect for the minorities, and for a majority of the Sunni population, who have flourished under the tolerance of the Alawite regime. The US State Department and the West generally are, oddly, not impressed by Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III's statement that "there is more religious freedom and tolerance in Syria than in any other Arab country". Last week I interviewed Mother Agnes-Mariam de la Croix. A highly educated Carmelite nun, she has fled Syria under threat of abduction from her home, the sixth-century Monastery of St James the Mutilated. Her version of the truth about Syria is very different from the version we get from European and American leaders, and from al-Jazeera. According to Agnes-Mariam, the initial uprising was a benign protest against the monolithic and ideological Baathist regime of which, after almost 50 years, people had tired. The protest was helped by some of the very advantages that the regime had delivered, such as equality of religion and a high standard of education, particularly for women. However, the protest had hardly begun before it was hijacked by Islamist mercenaries and turned into violent jihad. This is only beginning to emerge now as people query the number of foreign fighters among the insurgents.
According to Agnes-Mariam, only about one in 50 is actually Syrian. The rest are jihadists from elsewhere in the Middle East and abroad, even from Australia. What is worse, many of these fighters have had support in money and arms and morale from the West. .... Agnes-Mariam and many other Syrians are warning the West against intervention, because the insurgency is now bent on a religious and cultural purge of Syria, and indeed the whole Middle East. Ironically, some of the Sunni Wahhabist ideologues were already ensconced and unwittingly protected by the regime, particularly within the secret service, to counteract American influence during the Iraq invasion. As Stenhouse says: "The Syrian (tolerant) model of an Arab society offends extremist and closed Muslim societies. It now seems to offend the USA and its allies. If they have their way, it will disappear along with the Assad regime.
That will be a sad day for the Middle East, and a worse one for the Western powers, who will have unleashed an uncertain future on millions of defenceless non-Muslims and non-extremist Muslims."
The mother superior of a 1500-year-old monastery in Syria warned yesterday during a visit to Australia that the uprising against Bashar al-Assad has been hijacked by foreign Islamist mercenaries, with strong support from Western countries. Mother Agnes-Mariam de la Croix was forced to flee to neighbouring Lebanon in June when she was warned of a plot to abduct her, after she revealed that about 80,000 Christians had been "cleared" by rebel forces from their homes in Homs province. She described on the website of the Greek-Melkite Catholic monastery of St James, the church she rebuilt 18 years ago after discovering it in ruins, how Islamist rebels had gathered Christian and Alawi hostages in a building in Khalidiya in Homs. Then they blew it up with dynamite and attributed the act to the regular army. .... Slowly these groups became identified: some are recruited by and affiliated with al-Qa'ida, some have a Muslim Brotherhood background, some are attached to other Islamist factions. Only about one in 20 of these fighters is Syrian, she said. The rest come from places ranging from Britain to Pakistan, from Chechnya to North Africa. "Many have fought in Iraq, some also in Afghanistan," Mother Agnes-Mariam said. "Now their cause is being recycled to kill Syrians." The two million Christians in Syria - which contains the world's first church - "are sharing Syria's fate", she said. "But as a minority, they are more vulnerable. They have no army. They are caught, like the filling in a sandwich." Her own community of nuns at St James has been mostly trapped in the monastery for 18 months. In the beginning, she said, the uprising embraced values including freedom and democracy. "But it steadily became a violent Islamist expression against a liberal secular society." She described "a hidden will to empty the Middle East of its Christian presence. We don't know why. We have always been the peaceful catalyst bringing diverse communities together." ...
So just what "values" do Romney and Obama and the pro-Israel news media and pro-Israel Lobby think we share with the jihadis? Clifford Kirakofe