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 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.
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
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.
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