A Catholic MP has said that if the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s regime falls then thousands of Christians in the country may be killed.
Edward Leigh, the Conservative MP for Gainsborough, said that under the “nasty” regime Christian refugees from Iraq had found “an oasis of relative calm”. But following the Arab Spring uprising, he said, suspected rebels had killed a young Christian man.
In an article in this week’s Catholic Herald, he writes: “A great many have taken refuge in neighbouring Syria in which, despite the heavy-handed nature of its dictatorial regime, Christians (and indeed Jews) have found an oasis of relative calm until hit by the recent stirrings of the Arab Spring.
“Last month, the 29-year-old Greek Orthodox Hieromonk Basilios Nassar was shot dead while giving medical aid to a man who himself had been wounded by a bullet from suspected rebels in Hama, Syria. Should the Assad regime, nasty as it is, fall we should then expect hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of such killings to take place – as indeed they have taken place in Iraq.
“Christians are currently engaged in almost every aspect of public life in Syria. Can we realistically expect this to continue under an Islamist government with democratic legitimacy? As we are now witnessing beatings, abductions, and xenophobic killings in free Libya, the West must be forced to acknowledge the pernicious edge of our liberal internationalist foreign policy.
“While revelling in Schillerian bliss over exuberant moments of popular liberation like those in Tahrir Square last year, we must remind ourselves that dangers lurk deep within the enshrinement of the rule of the majority without sufficient safeguards reinforcing the rights of minorities.”