Sunday, April 13, 2014

Fr Georges Massouh on the Attack on Kasab

Arabic original here.

Escaping the Captivity of "Minorities"

The events that occurred in the Syrian city of Kasab along the Turkish border have brought back to the forefront the issue of religious "minorities". The Armenians who were targeted with attacks alongside other Syrian citizens roused feelings of solidarity with them among their fellow Armenians scattered all over the world, just as it evoked feelings of fear and anxiety about a repeat of the massacres that Turkey perpetrated against their grandparents at the beginning of last century.

Christians refuse to be treated as "minorities" since they have been striving, from before the fall of the Ottoman Empire until this very moment, to live full citizenship on the basis of equality with their Muslim partners. They have done everything in their power to destroy the dividing wall erected by the system of dhimmitude between Muslims and other "subjects" of the Islamic state. We can state that this effort of theirs has manifested itself in the demand for the separation of religion and state.

At the time when France, the colonialist state, divided Syria into four states: the State of Damascus and the State of Aleppo with Sunni majorities, the Alawite State and the Druze State, Christians were scattered over all four states and did not possess their own entity. This indicates the Christians' profound commitment to a single, united Syria and so they did not demand their own state which would be like a second "Israel" in Arab lands.

In the Middle East, the concept of "minorities" is not a Christian invention. It was imposed upon them that they be "minorities." From its inception, the Islamic state has divided society into two groups: Muslims, who have all the privileges and "dhimmis". If dividing society up according to religious affiliation is something natural and acceptable in ancient times, in the East and in the West, it our own era it has become something repugnant and unacceptable, contrary to the times and indeed, contrary to nature.

Christians have longed and continue to long to escape from the captivity of "minorities". They desire freedom from the bonds of narrow sectarian affiliation. However, the general situation has not helped them to break out of this captivity. Neither did the Islamic state allow them to be free, nor were the dictatorial military regimes faithful in applying true secularism, nor do the plans now proposed bring them any hope of emancipation. Instead, they bring frustration since they promise to return them to medieval systems that lag far behind what they long for.

Some frown upon the solidarity that Christians have for their fellow Christians in Syria each time they are subject to attacks, considering it to be a type of malicious sectarianism. At the  very same time, however, they opt for sectarian choices and condone support for their brothers in religion with weapons and money. If only they would have solidarity with every victim, every displaced person,  and everyone whose person and livelihood has been assaulted.

Armenians in Syria are Syrian citizens. They are not a "colony" as  they have been described by some television stations. They do not want to be "subjects" of the sultan once more. What the Ottoman sultan and his secular Ataturkist heirs did to the children of their church is still engraved in the depth of their consciousness and their living memory.

During the first half of the 20th century, Northern Syria likewise witnessed the annihilation of the Christian presence in most of its Turkish regions. The Orthodox were expelled from Antioch and the Sanjak of Alexandretta, which colonialist France gifted to her ally Ataturk. Syriac Christians were expelled from Diyarbakr, Mardin and other ancient Syriac cities... And so you wonder why Christians are haunted with fear and anxiety about the future?

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