Why Syria’s Christians support the ‘Gas Killing Animal’ Assad

by Gerard Russell

Among those condemning the American-French-British strikes on Bashar al-Assad’s forces this past week, alongside Ayatollah Khamenei and Vladimir Putin, were an apparently surprising group: the spiritual leaders of Syria’s Christians. The patriarchs of the country’s three largest Christian communities condemned the “brutal aggression” of the West, and praised Assad’s army.

Why are Christian priests taking such a strong political stance; and why are they in favour of a dictator who just gassed his own people?

Christian churches in the East are no stranger to politics. Church and state are not separate in Islam and any Middle Eastern leader will want to cultivate senior religious figures – maybe even to get involved in the process by which they are chosen.

Perhaps, also, to threaten and intimidate them if they step out of line, as the anti-Assad group Syrian Christians for Peace described in an article last year. That article also listed multiple killings of Christians carried out by Assad’s security forces.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection