Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you - Luke 6:28

Residents of the Christian town of Saidnaya have refuse to receive the Maaloula nuns. It was expected that the freed nuns would go to live, temporarily, at their sister convent Our Lady of Saydnaya, as the convent of St. Tekla has been looted and burned by the rebels. However it does not appear possible currently as residents express anger at comments made by the Maaloula nuns and are refusing to recieve them.

The 1,500 year old convent of our Lady of Saydnaya. The predominantly Christian town of Saydnaya is so important to Eastern Christianity that it is often referred to as the second Jerusalem. It was intended that the freed nuns reside here.
The 1,500 year old convent of our Lady of Saydnaya. The predominantly Christian town of Saydnaya is so important to Eastern Christianity that it is often referred to as the second Jerusalem. It was intended that the freed nuns reside here.

The residents of the ancient Syrian town of Saidnaya have refused to receive the Maaloula nuns, who were released from captivity last Monday (10/03/2014). The refusal comes as the result of comments made on camera to the rebels by Reverend Mother Pelagia Sayyaf, Superior of St. Tekla , and other nuns during the time of their release and transfer.  Some Syrians including a section of Saidnaya’s residents have taken exception to the fact that the nuns actually thanked the kidnapers who had held them captive for almost 4 months, describing the leader of the al-Qaeda affiliated group as “a nobel man” and also thanking Qatar for their part in negotiating the release. Qatar has been a major financier and proponent of sectarian violence in Syria.

It must be understood that the nuns have withstood a great trauma. They did not go willingly with their captors, they were abducted. On arriving at the place where they were first detained they required the services of a doctor as some nuns were suffering from temporary deafness caused by the explosion of a bomb used by the terrorists to blow open the Iron doors and gain access to the convent and the nuns. Threatening to blow open the door of the convent was how terrorists gained access to the convent when they first attacked Maaloula in September last. 

Fawaz Dari just one member of the so called “moderate” rebel FSA beloved of western governments who lost his life, recently, in combat with government forces in the area of Yabroud, where the nuns were held. Click to enlarge
Fawaz Dari just one member of the so called “moderate” rebel FSA beloved of western governments who lost his life, recently, in combat with government forces in the area of Yabroud, where the nuns were held. Click to enlarge

The nuns of Maaloula are well aware of the horrendous atrocities committed by the rebels who not only looted and burned the convent of St. Tekla but also destroyed the entire town.  These al-Qaeda affiliated rebels have committed acts of brutality beyond all comprehension and what the nuns were saying must surely have been for the sake of self preservation. However the negative reaction of some Syrians is itself symptomatic of the trauma they have suffered as individuals and as a nation who have withstood 3 years of terror. The nuns are lucky to have survived and may only have done so because they were a valuable commodity to their gaolers.

Patriarch John X Issues Statement to Clarify the Matter

The Orthodox patriarch of Antioch has issued a statement to clarify the issues that have arisen as result of the comments made on camera by some of the kidnapped nuns. The patriarch points out that the comments do not represent the Churches’ position but that the nuns were under duress and the effects of a prolonged abduction. 'We confirm to all Syrians, Christians and Muslims, sons and brothers, that these statements (of the nuns) do not represent the Church's position, and it's coming due to the pressure of a long arrest. And we are not here trying to justify it, nor analyze the circumstances surrounding it.' The Patriarch went on to state that acts of terrorism and kidnapping effect every segment of the Syrian society and all are paying dearly for ideologies alien to the values of the nation. In conclusion the Patriarch asked that God may protect Syria its people and its president, and said that from the depth of his heart he yearned for a return to peace. Original statment in Arabic here

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Petition to Journalists asking for responsible and accountable reporting on Syria. Please sign

H.E. The Sunni Grand Mufti of Syria, Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun - I am the Mufti of all Syrians – Sunni Muslims, Christians, Alawites, Druze – of all the diversity of sects we had before the war. There is no choice other than reconciliation."

H.B. John X Yazigi, Antiochian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch -

The Antiochian Orthodox Patriarch in Syria, John Yazigi, says Syrian Christians "will not submit and yield" to foreign-backed extremist militants who attack "our people and holy places."

H.E. Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani, Sunni Grand Mufti of Lebanon - “Christians’ fears nowadays over their presence and their dignity in the Middle East are right and justified”

H.B Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch - The West and other countries are helping to foment conflict in the Middle East "there is a plan to destroy the Arab world for political and economic interests"

H.E Sheikh Abdul Amir Qabalan, Deputy President of the Higher Shiite Council Lebanon - Called on the U.S to “work on giving people their freedom in Syria by refraining from supporting radical Islamists and criminals who are killing innocent people and violating their freedoms.

 H.B. Gregorios III Laham, Melkite greek-Catholic Patriarch of Antioch - "Every day Islamic extremists from all over the world are pouring into Syria with the sole intent to kill and not one country has done anything to stop them."

H.H. Mor Ignatios Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch (R.I.P.) - "Syrians are the only ones who will decide their destiny, and that decision will be taken in Damascus, not in a European country."

H.H. Mor Ignatius Ephrem II Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch -  “Christians and Muslims alike are exposed to a terrorist war in the region”.... the Patriarch denounced the silence of the world regarding crimes committed by armed terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq.

H.B. Youssef III Younan,  Syriac Catholic Patriarchs of Antioch - "We Syrian Christians, sold by the West for oil” - "Christians in the Middle East have not only been abandoned, but we have been lied to and betrayed by Western nations, like the United States and the European Union."

H.B. Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, “Who appointed them [United States] as ‘policemen of democracy’ in the Middle East? ”

H.E. Maroun Laham, Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan  - “This interest, on the part of the United States or of Europe, for human rights or for the defence of the weak, no one believes. No one believes it!,”

H.E. Jacques Behnan Hindo,  Syriac Catholic Archbishop ofHassaké-Nisibi (northeastern Syria) - Regarding the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, and the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabuis “Please excuse my expression. They are screwing all Syrians

H.E. Theodosius Hanna, Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Sebastia (Nablus, Palestine) - "Will the displacement of Christians from Syria, their killing and slaughter and the destruction of their churches lead to an alleged democracy?"

Rev. Georges Massouh Antiochian Orthodox priest and director of the Christian Muslim Studies Center at Balamand University, Lebanon. "It goes without saying that Christians in Syria do not consider themselves greater or more important that their Muslim partners in the one nation. They find themselves in solidarity with all the people of Syria, in the calamities that they share and the strikes that fall upon all their heads."