Syria: one view from Christians

1) Who started the attacks in the beginning of the conflict?

The protests started with normal people who wanted corruption to end, but then there were people who came out of the mosques with weapons hidden in their clothing People we know went with the protestors until they saw the people coming out of the mosques bringing out hidden weapons from under their clothes. At one point they saw covered pick up cars sneak in and give protestors arms to use. This is when they knew that it was not a peaceful protest, but one with a hidden and planned agenda. The Muslims inside the country received support from Saudi and Qatar. Anyone who fights in the name of Allah is an Islamic army. The military fights for Syria. The Commanding General of the Free Syria Army always asks God to give victory for Islam. All of the Generals of the Opposition do this.
The Muslim leaders say, “Fight them and kill them and God will give you victory in your hand.” The “them” refers to the Christians and the Jews; even Muslims who do not follow Sharia law. The Muslims in the Middle East consider the Christians to be from the West and the West considers the Christians in the Middle East to be Muslim or from a Muslim background.

2) What kind of attacks happened in the beginning?

During the first year of the conflict Assad ordered the military not to shoot the protestors. They were allowed to shoot into the air to scare the protestors. At the same time the protestors had their own weapons hidden. The Secret Police dressed like protestors and arrested foreigners from Libya and Yemen, other places and Syrians as well. They arrested some of them and tortured and beat them. But out on the streets the protestors would shoot people from the back and claim the military shot them. From the very beginning the protestors shouted against Assad, the Christians, and the Alawites. They chanted, “Christians to Lebanon; Alawites to their graves.”

3) What do you know about the recent “chemical attacks”?

Do you know who is responsible? We don’t really know who is responsible. We think it is the rebels, based on past events and circumstances. A month and a half ago at midnight we woke up coughing and struggling to breathe. There were many people we know that went to the hospital. Also during the next day many people went to the hospital including some of the military. That never made the news. In Aleppo months ago, everyone knew that the rebels were responsible for the chemical attack.

4) What is daily life like on the ground in Damascus?

We walk always looking up for mortars which fall in mostly Christian areas. Mortars fall only in Christian and Druz areas. There are very specific places that we know are very dangerous and that we would likely be kidnapped if we drive or walk there. Food is very expensive. For example, a can of cola before the conflict cost 15 Syrian Pounds and now is 75 Syrian Pounds. Most of the time there is limited electricity. There will be 3 to 6 hours a day, usually during the hours from 3am to 3pm. When the rebels attack the electric station sometimes we go 3 or 4 days without electricity. Before the conflict we always had water. Now there is water from 6am until 1pm. Five years ago Syria was very safe to camp anywhere in the
country, but now it is very dangerous everywhere. Now every time the people leave their house, they say good bye for fear they will never return.

5) What do the majority of people in Syria really want? Which side do the people support? Is the public opinion right now the same as it was in the beginning?

In the beginning many people were against the corrupted Assad regime and wanted changes. Today the majority seems to be for Assad. In the beginning people cared about politics and corruption and now the people just care about the country.

6) If the U.S. or NATO attacked and took out the infrastructure, what would happen in Syria? (If bridges and roads and electricity and water and communication were taken out)

The people will suffer. The military is prepared. But the people will be terribly affected. If the U.S. gives help to the rebels, the blood of the minorities will be on their hands.

7) What would happen to the Christians if radicals took over the country?

The Christians will be given three choices. They must convert to Islam, leave the country, or die.

 What was life like before the conflict under Assad?

Life in Syria was full of freedom; we were proud to be Christians in Syria. We used to go out on the street during the Christmas season and sing carols. The police would protect us. Muslims respected the Christians and cohabitated in peace together for decades. The Church has an official stamp from the government. We had the freedom not only to worship inside the church but also outside the church. Any persecution would only come from Muslim radicals; not the government. The government actually put the “Jesus” video in the cinema. The government advertised it. They also put “The Passion of Christ” in the cinema. We miss our Syria.

Names withheld for their safety and protection.

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