Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Saturday 18 September |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Daudi Okelo and Bl. Jildo Irwa
home iconNews
line break icon

Christian leader in Aleppo warns of ethnic cleansing

AMEER ALHALBI / AFP-AI

Syrian men carrying babies make their way through the rubble of destroyed buildings following a reported air strike on the rebel-held Salihin neighbourhood of the northern city of Aleppo, on September 11, 2016. Air strikes have killed dozens in rebel-held parts of Syria as the opposition considers whether to join a US-Russia truce deal due to take effect on September 12. / AFP PHOTO / AMEER ALHALBI

John Burger - published on 10/01/16 - updated on 06/07/17

Presbyterian bishop notes drastic reduction of coreligionists in five years of civil war

Sister Luisa, who teaches in the Armenian Catholic school in Aleppo’s Middan neighborhood, is certain that the bombing of her school was revenge. Germany had just recently officially recognized the Armenian Genocide of 1915.

“The minute the news spread around Middan neighborhood, all hell broke loose,” Sister Luisa told Vatican Insider.

Rebels lobbed a missile at the school, though no students were present at the time.

That happened last June, but now, as Aleppo is going through hell, some Christians there are speaking of something similar: ethnic cleansing.

Read more…Report from Damascus: A young Syrian student blames the West

Ibrahim Nussayr, bishop of the Presbyterian Church in Aleppo, pointed out that the city’s Christian population has gone from 130,000 to 35,000 in five years. “That is less than 3% of the population,” he said. “Whether they were killed or forced to flee, that is ethnic cleansing.”

“Everything came down,” said Sister Luisa, speaking of the bombing of her school: “the balcony, a wall, the staircase. It was tough but we managed to have it rebuilt before the start of the new school year.” Sister Luisa has been headmistress of the school since 2010, when the Syrian civil war began. She’s been encouraged to leave, but she insists: “Religious are like soldiers. And soldiers don’t run away.”

“We are responsible for our pupils no matter what,” she said.

The school is named Farah, which means “happiness.” Most of its 265 students are Christian and must understand Armenian.

At the Salesian technical college in Aleppo, its longtime director, Father George recalled a city where, not all that long ago, Christians and Muslim neighbors would celebrate one another’s feasts. He shudders to think of what the future may bring.

“Syria has given the Church seven popes,” he pointed out. “Many denominations, such as the Maronites, were born here. Without Syria, there is no Christianity.”

“Syria’s different faiths have lived together in harmony for 1500 years,” added Bishop Nussayr.

Archbishop Boutros Marayati, head of the Armenian Catholic archeparchy in Aleppo, said that “hundreds” of Christian and Muslim boys and girls in Aleppo plan to meet on Oct. 6 to pray “so that the spiral of death unleashed in recent days, especially on their defenseless children, stops in the battered city they live in, and throughout Syria.” The youngsters will also put their signatures and their fingerprints on an appeal to world leaders, reported Fides, the news agency of the Vatican’s department for evangelization.

“But above all, they will pray. They will pray for all of their peers. And we trust in the fact that children’s prayer is more powerful than ours,” added Archbishop Marayati.

Tags:
Syria

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Pope considers what to do with pro-abortion Catholic politicians
2
communion
Philip Kosloski
How receiving Holy Communion can drive away demons
3
Berthe and Marcel
Lauriane Vofo Kana
This couple has the longest marriage in France
4
CROSS
Philip Kosloski
Why is the feast of the Holy Cross celebrated on September 14?
5
Mathilde De Robien
How a lost masterpiece of sacred art was discovered thanks to chi...
6
Kathleen N. Hattrup
On same-sex unions, Pope says Church doesn’t have power to change...
7
SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA
Philip Kosloski
This prayer to St. Anthony is said to have “never been known to f...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.