Assad Slaughtering Syrian Christians
"The Syrian authorities have been trying to force our [Christian] leaders to support Assad in public."
Syrian dictator Bashar Assad's security forces last week killed Husam al Murra, a Syrian Christian who had joined the Syrian Free Army, which is fighting to topple the regime in Damascus.
Assad is angry with the Christians in his country because most of them have refused to support his atrocities against the Syrian people.
He is also angry with them because many Christians have played a major role in relief work to help the victims of Assad's bloody crackdown on his opponents.
At the beginning of the uprising, Assad's government forced leaders of the Christian community in Syria to hold public events in support of the regime. The leaders were instructed to pledge their loyalty to Assad and condemn the opposition as a "bunch of terrorists backed by the Zionists and the US."
But as Assad's forces stepped up their massacres and repression of the people, most Christians began speaking out against the regime, especially on Facebook and other social media networking.
The killing of al Murra highlights the growing plight of Syria's Christian minority, who make up less than 10% of the population.
This is a minority that seems to be caught between the hammer and anvil: Assad is persecuting and killing Christians, and Christians fear that if Muslim extremists come to power, they anyhow will be forced to relocate to the US and Europe.
The killing of the young man shows that Assad does not distinguish between one opponent and another in Syria -- Muslims or Christians.
Al Murra is not the first Syrian Christian to be killed by Assad's security forces since the beginning of the popular uprising nearly a year ago.
In recent weeks, several other Christian men have been shot and killed in different parts of the country. One of the victims was a priest from the city of Hama, who was killed while trying to provide humanitarian and medical aid to people injured by Syrian army gunfire.
According to a Christian lawyer in Damascus, Assad's security forces have also begun targeting churches, monasteries and schools under the pretext that they were being used as hideouts for "armed gangs."
Many Christians have stopped going to Church on Sundays, and some Christian schools have been forced to shut down out of fear of being targeted by Assad loyalists.
According to Open Doors, an international ministry supporting persecuted Christians around the world, more than 80% of Christians have fled the city of Homs, where fighting is the worst.
An Italian priest who had been living in Syria for the past two decades was asked to leave the country after he voiced public support for the Syrian people's struggle for reform and democracy.
"Most Christians in Syria are against this murderous regime," said George Saba, a Christian teacher from Damascus who fled to Jordan three months ago. "The Syrian authorities have been trying to force our leaders to support Assad in public. No Christian could ever support such heinous crimes against women and children."
Comment on this item
by Alan M. Dershowitz
by Pierre Rehov
For terrorists, the death of innocent children is irrelevant. In a society that promotes martyrdom as the ultimate sign of success, the death of innocent children can sometimes even be seen as a public relations blessing.
In every action, intent is paramount. There should never be a moral equivalence painted between the deliberate killing of civilians, and a retaliation that tragically leads to casualties among civilians.
There is, however, one small difference: in the Middle East, reporters are threatened, except in Israel. Their choice becomes a simple one: promote the Palestinian point of view or stop working in the West Bank. Keep the eye of the camera dirty or lose your job. This show should not go on.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
Since 1948, the Arab countries and government have been paying mostly lip service to the Palestinians.
"They have money and oil, but don't care about the Palestinians, even though we are Arabs and Muslims like them. What a Saudi or Qatari sheikh spends in one night in London, Paris or Las Vegas could solve the problem of tens of thousands of Palestinians." — Palestinian human rights activist.
"Some Arabs were hoping that Israel would rid them of Hamas." — Ashraf Salameh, Gaza City.
"Some of the Arab regimes are interested in getting rid of the resistance in order to remove the burden of the Palestinian cause, which threatens the stability of their regimes." — Mustafa al-Sawwaf, Palestinian political analyst.
"Most Arabs are busy these days with bloody battles waged by their leaders, who are struggling to survive. These battles are raging in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya and the Palestinian Authority." — Mohammed al-Musafer, columnist.
"The Arab leaders don't know what they want from the Gaza Strip. They don't even know what they want from Israel." — Yusef Rizka, Hamas official.
by Soeren Kern
European elites, who take pride in viewing the EU as a "postmodern" superpower, have long argued that military hard-power is illegitimate in the 21st century. Unfortunately for Europe, Russia (along with China and Iran) has not embraced the EU's fantastical soft-power worldview, in which "climate change" is now said to pose the greatest threat to European security.
For its part, the European Commission, the EU's administrative branch, which never misses an opportunity to boycott institutions in Israel, has issued only a standard statement on the shooting down of MH17 in Ukraine, which reads: "The European Union will continue to follow this issue very closely."
The EU has made only half-hearted attempts to develop alternatives to its dependency on Russian oil and gas.
by Shoshana Bryen
Proportionality in international law is not about equality of death or civilian suffering, or even about [equality of] firepower. Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against suffering that the action might cause to enemy civilians in the vicinity.
"Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable does not constitute a war crime.... even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur. A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (principle of distinction) or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality)." — Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court.
"The greater the military advantage anticipated, the larger the amount of collateral damage -- often civilian casualties -- which will be "justified" and "necessary." — Dr. Françoise Hampton, University of Essex, UK.