Dana, a 26-year-old Syrian, is studying French at the University of Damascus. She has agreed to share her view of the conflict in her country. Her testimony, which has just reached us, is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to better understand the lives of young Syrians back home.
Aleteia: How has your life changed since the beginning of the war?
Dana: Daily life in Damascus has not changed much for the general population, but for me, the war has turned my life upside down. I have lost friends, members of my family, my cousin in particular. I also had to write off some of my dreams … I wanted more than anything to finish my studies in France but now it is almost impossible for me to go abroad. It has become equally difficult to find a decent job because of the sanctions against my country. I still think I am blessed to have been able to remain in my house while multitudes have been forced to flee their homes.
Are you concerned for the future of Syria?
Of course I’m worried about the future of Syria, because I do not know how long it will take to resolve this crisis and rebuild the country. We are not at war with a conventional enemy: terrorists come from everywhere to fight in Syria backed by several countries. They have literally devastated whole regions, massacred the people and committed the worst crimes imaginable. But I think that Syria has experienced a lot of pain throughout its history, and each time it has emerged stronger than ever.
What do you think of the Russian intervention in Syria, in comparison with that of the West?
I am favorable to the role of Russians in the region. I think the Russian air strikes can help our army to eradicate the terrorists and finally restore peace and security in Syria. This is a positive step that brings us a little closer to a way out of the crisis. Obviously I am against any kind of foreign interference in the internal affairs of my country, but there is a big difference between the Russian and the American airstrikes: since the beginning of the war, Russia offered peaceful solutions and encouraged dialogue and reforms in Syria. The Americans and their allies, they, on the contrary, have always defended and supported the terrorists under the false pretext of “democracy.”
You are a Christian. Isn’t it difficult to live your faith in a predominantly Muslim society?
In Syria, Christians live the same situation as the Muslims; there are not two separate communities … I have many friends who I’ve known forever and I do not even know their religion. We live together as Syrians regardless of a person’s religion, because the relationship with God is a personal matter. We still celebrate Masses and religious holidays despite all the threats that war poses to us: mortars or terrorist attacks.
Does the government limit the freedom of Christian worship?
No, quite the contrary! The government has never stopped anyone from going to church, and checkpoints are even erected around Christian neighborhoods each time there is a religious feast in order to secure the area and the population.
Do you believe that one country is more likely than another to defend Eastern Christians?
I do not think there is a real defender of Christians in Syria; each country defends and protects its own interests. However, I believe that the Russian and Syrian policies converge, which is why I believe that Russia is the most capable of defending the Syrians. I also welcome the position of Pope Francis with regard to the situation in Syria and his efforts in favor of peace. However, I must admit that the Syrians expect absolutely nothing more from the French government, especially after the negative role it played in the war, but we hope that the French people can discern the reality on the ground, which is a far cry from the disinformation in the media.
This article was translated from the French.