At a joint press conference in Paris on the 16th of September with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, the U.S. secretary of State
John Kerry was questioned about the disappearance of the Christians in Iraq and its relation to the same phenomenon in Syria, the kidnapped Archbishops of Aleppo and the recent attack against the
Christian village of Maaloula in Syria. In his response he obfuscates, lies and avoids answering parts of the question. He does not see any
direct connection between the disappearance of Christians from Iraq and what is happening in Syria today; however numerous statements are on record by church leaders stating their fear of an Iraq
style situation occurring in Syria. Kerry in his response goes on to state that the “opposition” wants Syria to be a secular country but sadly it has already been clearly demonstrated that
western backed Islamist and radical rebels are not in the least interested in preserving the secular nature of Syria nor retaining its current religious pluralism. Shamelessly the U.S. Secretary
in a blatantly sectarian remark accuses the Alawite
religious minority in Syria of being the perpetrators of all the ills suffered by the Christians, Druze and the non Sunni Islamic minorities, ignoring the fact that there is now
ample evidence to prove otherwise. Such a statement is tantamount to incitement to religious hatred and a form of appaling collectivisation with regard to an entire faith based population. Kerry
completely avoided answering other parts of the question regarding the kidnapped Archbishops from Aleppo and the attack by rebels on the Christian town of
Below is the full U.S. Department of State transcript of the question asked regarding Syrian Christians and the answer given by John Kerry.
QUESTION: (In French.) Secretary Kerry, you spoke about a strategic goal. That’s quite interesting. In your strategy, are you thinking of the Christians of Syria and Lebanon? The result – one of the main results, unfortunately, of seven years of American and English occupation of Iraq is the decimation and exile of most Christians in Iraq. Do you – we all remember Mr. Kissinger thinking of transporting in ’75 the Christians of Lebanon to Canada. Do you have a plan, a strategic goal how to protect the Christians in Syria? There is two bishops of Aleppo who were kidnapped, today Maaloula, an all-Christian city without any strategic interest, has been invaded by Islamist rebels. They killed people and they looted the churches. Do you have a plan, a strategic plan, for the Christians in Syria?
SECRETARY KERRY: "The answer is yes, but I don’t agree with your premise that the Christian – what has happened to the Christians is the consequence of what happened by the events in Iraq. And making clear there are lots of problems as a consequence of the war in Iraq and we understand that, and many of them negative, but that is, I do not believe, one of the direct roles."
"What we have is with a rise of radical Islam and religious extremism and ideological extremism in many parts of not just that region but elsewhere in the world there is an effort to impose a unity of belief on people – Taliban, Afghanistan, many other places – where there is not room for what we share as a matter of common values is tolerance and acceptance of people of different faiths and different beliefs and many other things. Regrettably, it is not just the Christians who have been impacted. It is the Druze, it is the Ismaili, it is all of the minorities. And the irony is the Alawi themselves are a minority doing this to these other people for control, for Assad’s control."
"So the fact is that the vision of Geneva 1 is a transition to a government that will embrace all of these minorities and protect all of these minorities and allow for a new Syria that is diverse and secular and creates a governance process that will protect all of the minorities as well as establish rights by which people will know they can live and participate in the governance of their country. That’s the new Syria. And the opposition has put out a very clear set of declarations and principles – which they did, I believe, in Amman as well as in Ankara, as well as in Istanbul – that make clear their commitment to this embrace of tolerance, diversity, protection of minorities, and full declaration of rights. So that’s the distinction here. And I hate to say it; it’s not just in Syria, but it’s in parts of the Maghreb, in the Sahel, in Mali, elsewhere, that we see this struggle between this extremist religious advance against modernity and pluralism and the values that we hold dear. It’s our hope that we can prove to people in a new Syria, that people could live alongside each other and that there are a different set of principles by which the world can organize itself. And we’ve been fighting on these kinds of things for a long period of time. Doesn’t make them any less valuable today. Original source here"
But the experiences of Christans in Syria and Iraq speak otherwise
See also: Western backed rebels attack Maaloula
But the experiences of those who have died at the hands of extremist rebels in Syria speaks otherwise
Testimony of the late Fr Francis Mourad:"They [rebels] attacked churches and religious insignia Every day one of us disappears. do not know when my time will come. Anyway, I'm ready to die, and that my church remembers I have offered my life with joy for all Christians of this beloved country." (18/06/2012)
"After burning the Greek (Byzantine) church and destroyed the Marian shrine of the Latins, ransacked and destroyed everything in my convent and that of Protestants. They [rebels]smashed and burned all the religious symbols of the village and smeared with blasphemies against our religion." (20/02/2013)
"The days passed slowly and every day is darker than the previous. The time is coming when we will have to look for a place of refuge from the bombing. At night, try to stay awake for
fear of those for whom everything that bears the name of Christian is anathema." (17/03/2013)
But Christian clerics believe otherwise
“Christians have not received one reassuring sign from the various groups that make up the rebel militia or from Islamist fundamentalists. So if there is a ceasefire, all Christians will think about doing is fleeing.” The Armenian Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo, Boutros Maryayati.
“This interest, on the part of the United States or of Europe, for human rights or for the defense of the weak, no one believes. No one believes it!,” Archbishop Laham, Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
"This attack [at Maaloula] by the rebel forces, who are supported by the U.S. government, is an unspeakable act of terror, and speaks volumes to the viciousness of those rebel forces who seek to overthrow the Syrian government. Apparently there is nothing that is sacred to these people, and it is very disturbing that these same people are being supported by our government." Metropolitan Philip Saliba, Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America.
"Christians in the Middle East have been not only abandoned, but we have been lied to and betrayed by Western nations, like the United States and the European Union," Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan, Syriac Catholic Church.
"Will the displacement of Christians from Syria, their killing and slaughter and the destruction of their churches lead to an alleged democracy?" Archbishop Theodosios, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem
The Syrian Army is protecting the Christian community [in Aleppo]but if [the Army] leaves, they will be massacred.” Father Raymond Moussalli, Patriarchal vicar of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Jordan
But the reality shows otherwise
Raqqa Dance Troupe Branded Apostates
John Kerry told the press conference in Paris that the opposition “make clear their commitment to this embrace of tolerance, diversity, protection of minorities, and full declaration of rights,” but the reality on the ground shows otherwise.
This is just one of countless examples: the Raqqa popular dance troupe, "Gulanar" which was established in 1968 specializing in folkloric dance has been branded "Apostates." The Syrian troupe earned major successes and became widely known for its work. Its fame had travelled beyond the Arab world, performing in theatres in London, Paris, and Italy. Ismail Ojeili founder of the troupe told the Lebanese daily Al Akhbar that members of his troupe, fled from the city of Raqqa after they were accused of apostasy. “We received several threats before armed Islamist brigades entered the city, and so we were awaiting our ‘just punishment.’ As soon as they entered the city, and while they were still preoccupied with collecting the spoils of war and divvying up furniture and machines from governmental institutions, we took the chance to escape the bullets and black smoke.” Read the article here