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Catholic MP: thousands of Christians may be killed if Assad regime falls

By on Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan)

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan)

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.”

  • Wat1999

    Wise words indeed! What do we do? Off a safe haven to all persecuted minorities, like Israel does to persecuted Jews? Hardly a solution.

  • ms Catholic state

    Thank God for Edward Leigh.  The Western nations never consider the effects of their actions on  Christian minorities….until it’s too late of course and then they pay lip service only.  I guess you can’t expect much more from post-Christian signed up secularists.
    Would it be possible for Lebanon to offer refuge to Christian refugees.  Maybe the Pope could arrange such.  I can’t see the EU making any special arrangements for Christians.  Why….that would be discrimination of the most heinious kind!

  • FrankG

    EU countries already offer asylum to those fleeing religious persecution

  • Asitis

    Pity this Parliament doesn’t recognise the true situation!
    ……….maybe they do but choose to ignore reality for the sake of political gain eyeing future markets!!

  • FrankG

    Its hard to know what to do in a situation like this and nobody can predict the future. But im not sure how wise it is to support a regime that is killing thousands of people now on the basis that their opponents might kill thousands of other people later

  • m francis

    The EU is Christianophobic.  Its philosophies are more concerned with gay rights and ‘ positive discrimination ‘ for supposed disadvantaged minorities.   It is corrupt to the core as demonstrated by the fact that it has not allowed for its own accounts to be audited for the last seven years and is dominated by freemasons.  We as a church should be a constant thorn in the side of such organisations as clearly they do not know what, “thou shalt not steal” actually means.  Our church should not recognise its legitimacy to govern until it cleans up its act and its policies.   I believe Assad understands as most dictators do, the level of suppression required to prevent the Muslim fanatics from murdering Christians.   In short, a power vacuum in any Muslim country = bad news for Christians.   How Bliar and Cameron live with themselves I will never know,  The former should never have been accepted in to our faith whilst he tries to justify the mayhem he left behind for Christians in Iraq.

  • http://twitter.com/LaCatholicState la catholic state

    I wouldn’t bet on that.  The UN is staffed by many Muslims who actually dump the documentation of fleeing Christians….while advancing the cause of Muslim emmigrants.  The EU should pay special attention to the plight of Christians….since they have nowhere else to flee to, unlike Muslims.  I would like to see the Vatican get more pro-active.  Lebanon would be a good destination for Christians I think.

    See the following video….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqFVlhkbRZY&list=FLPj-vKznj13OMfN2GKMZWTQ&index=17&feature=plpp_video

  • m francis

    I think that the future is very predictable.  The recent murders and suppression of Christians in Sudan,Nigeria,Egypt more than adequately demonstrate what power vacuums in Muslim countries mean to Christian minorities.   I think also that if the West continue to back Civil war in Syria the death toll will rise exponentially.   I believe that this is one case where it is better the devil you know.

  • FrankG

    Where does the UN come into it? It is a country’s own authorities that process asylum applications, for example in the UK it would be the UK Border Agency: This page tells you who can apply for asylum 
    http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/asylum/claimingasylum/whocanclaim/ - you will see religious persecution is one of the catagories.
    This page details the process http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/asylum/process/ - UN not involved.

  • ms Catholic state

    Well I would think the UN would be operating refugee camps in the afflicted nations wouldn’t you?!  And can we be sure that Muslims in the EU are not doing the same thing anyhow?!! 

    Also remember the EU is very loathe to mention the word Christian in the context of persecution.  It took a lot of effort to get them to specify Christian persecution in their last document on religious persecution.  As a Christian….I don’t trust them.

  • http://twitter.com/oceanclub Paul Moloney

    So we should prop up and defend Middle Eastern dictators as long as they only kill Muslims rather than Christians? Gotcha.

  • Anonymous

    The writer of the article hides behind the anonymity of Staff reporter- It’s the kind of mentality that gave us the crusades and ethnic cleansing. So,long as there aren’too many Cathbolics under threat or colaterally damaged it’s all right. They’re only Moslem, may even be crypto Al Qaida. As long as the murder rate remains under a daily rate of eighty, it’s fine.

  • Anonymous

    Shame on you.

  • ms Catholic state

    Interesting how genocide and discrimination against minorities is an irrelevant matter when the minorities in question are Christian!  Extraordinary hypocrisy. 

    We all want peace and justice…..but we want it for eveybody and not at the cost of a genocide of the Christian minority.

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps the UK hierarchy could print  and send some of their “I’m a Catholic cards” so that Moslems wouldn’t be rescued by mistake.

  • ms Catholic state

    So exposing an evil committed against Christians is now a source of shame.  Just what kind of a mind could come up with that?!! 

  • http://twitter.com/LarBren1 Laurence Brennan

    If some of these armed groups are capable of murdering thousands of Christians they are also likely to be capable of murdering thousands of Muslims.  That should be enough to ease western politically correct sensibilities.

  • Fr.hugh thomas

    It is good to hear an MP ready to speak out against the current political correctness.  “Arab spring” ‘indeed!  It has been an unmitigated disaster, especially for Christians.  The crazy invasion of Iraq has led to one catastrophe after another.  Dictators like Assad have many faults but the alternatives, fundamentalist Islamic regimes are totally evil. Saddam Hussein now appears like a virtuous ruler compared with the savages who have replaced him.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve just checked  the video. The good sister’s video is in a nauseating stack of anti-Moslem and anti-Jewish  propaganda videos.  She makes the kind of anti-immigration pitch that you can find in Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland and the UK. She doesn’t mention the emblematic Polish plumber, who escape by being Catholic, I suppose. With regard to opening Lebanon to Christian refugees, this show a lamentable ignorance of the history of Syria’s bloody interference in the country.  I agree that the Vatican might be more pro-active, by spreading Christian tolerance in the face of attitudes more in tune with the age of the crusades.

  • ms Catholic state

    You are making unfounded and evil allegations.  I guess any injustice perpetrated against Christians by Muslims are mere propoganda and non-existant according to you.  Keep living in your la la land…..the facts are stacking up against you.

    And you want us to tolerate evil against Christians.  That’s not tolerance….but cowardice and bigotry.

  • Ingrid Merchant

    It is gratifying to read Mr Leigh’s article warning of the danger to minorities when a regime is overthrown. Why are we so quick to be critical of regimes and advocate for change of regimes in the West? Have we not learned anything from the Iraq debacle? Let us not be quick to judge what is “good” for middle eastern nations. Instead let us listen to those who truly understand the politics and history of the region. Let us be humble and humane!

  • Anonymous

    I have actually worked in refugee camps,one in particular in the country with the largest Moslem population in the world. There was never the slightest whiff of discrimination I have seen bodies in the streets in Uganda, and helped care for victims of atrocities. Once victim of a car accident in Morocco, with high numbers of Polisario fighters everywhere, I was taken in by villagers. Moslem and Christian do inflict atrocities on each. My plea is for tolerance. Copts are being persecuted in Egypt, Christians in parts of Iraq, and by extremists in Northern Nigeria.  A right wing party in my own country, in the name of so-called Christian values, loses no opportunity to stir up ill feeling and worse against Muslim.

    I’m surprised at a catholic newspaper giving you space to vent your spleen. If you are computer literate take a look at the Youtube list alongside the video you cite.

  • ms Catholic state

    Well….nobody wants tolerance more than the Christian minorities in Islamic nations!!  So no doubt you will be speaking up for them.

    In my opinion you see only what you want to see.  I can’t imagine you would be much help to Christians suffering persecution.  Clearly it’s time we started to help ourselves without relying on the blinkered.

  • Makhaskonebishi

    You don’t get it, do you? Bachar is a murderer, we all know that, but when HE was in power, everything was fine (of course with a pinch of corruption), but if he goes, ALL HELL breaks loose! I love it when Westerners sit behind their computers deciding what is right or wrong about countries they have no idea how they are run! Last week, the “revolutionaries” shot a bomb at a monastery, shot this monk Basilios, we’re talking about people doing that while Bachar is still in power! How many Muslims are killed in the Middle East for being muslim? NONE! How many Christians are killed for being Christian? THOUSANDS! Nobody here supports Bachar’s acts, but if he goes, it will be religious genocide. The Christians in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, etc… KNOW what will happen to them once Bachar goes!! To have a “haven” for Christians and Jews in the Middle East is a RARE thing! Nobody is saying “let him kill Muslims”. NO. We’re saying “if he goes, ALL CHRISTIANS WILL BE KILLED”. 
    Middle Eastern Christian.

  • Anonymous

    All too true. The suggestion has a nasty taste; the Church has quite enough of a record supporting horrible regimes from Mussolini onwards, without doing anything more that can be all too easily construed as yet more of the same. The Church can’t afford to give the impression that it wants to keep tyrants in power; that is fatally easy to see as callous and amoral self-interest, even if that is a trillion miles from what the Church intends.

  • Anonymous

    “Bachar is a murderer, we all know that, but when HE was in power,
    everything was fine (of course with a pinch of corruption), but if he
    goes, ALL HELL breaks loose!”

    ## How is this not the sin of (at least) material co-operation with evil, though ?  The Church has taken a very dim view of that. In abortion, for example – even when there is only one fatality. To allow the very same kind of co-operation when many, not one alone, might be killed and have been killed, would be monstrous. If the Church does not denounce large-scale murder, to condemn  abortion becomes ridiculous. 

    “I love it when Westerners sit behind their computers deciding what is
    right or wrong about countries they have no idea how they are run!”

    ## Fair point – but the hierarchy don’t make too many allowances for the difficulties of people their teaching affects; so, why does the hierarchy get a free pass when their ideas look as morally dubious as they claim those of  many laity are ? If they can invoke Catholic ethics to judge us, we can judge them by those same ethics. What they cannot do, is invoke a stand to judge others, then do an about-face and claim it magically (& that *is* the right word) doesn’t apply to them.

    Or is murder not intrinsically evil ? If it can be morally right to support Bachar, then a lot of Catholic vitriol against abortion is exposed as hypocritical tosh – because apparently there can be intrisically evil actions that allow their doer to be supported, and not be vilified as “an enemy of the Church”.

    But if it can be morally OK to support Bachar, that is sheer relativism; it means that after all, intrinsically evil acts are intrinsically evil not always, but only sometimes. Which makes a lot of Vatican complaining about the evils of relativism in EU nothing but partisan “situation ethics”. Whivch is a bit much. since the Vatian has condemned “situation ethics” – for the rest of the Church at least.

    By its own logic, the only possible position for the Vatican is to favour the downfall of Bachar; it has not left any other position open to itself, unless it wants to trash its complaining about intrically evil acts, & about relativism, and about co-operation in evil. People talk about this issue as they do because of how the Vatican is always going on: this problem of events in Syria & their potential results tests the  Vatican’s position to destruction.

  • buckingham88

    I think the problem is more that its not a good idea to replace one tyranny with one the same, just of a different ideology.As for Mussolini,the papacy always opposed Nazism.

  • http://twitter.com/LaCatholicState la catholic state

    The Church is not in the business of supporting any regime.  She simply has to deal with who she finds in power…and urge them towards justice and if possible…Christianity.  The Church cannot either support the revolutionaries…as you seem to be suggesting.  That is not her business.  And neither is it her business to do the bidding of Islamist revolutionaries who are no friends of the Christian flock.

    But find shelter for her flock is her business! 

  • Anonymous

     Afraid so.  Better the devil we know than the devil we don’t know.

  • Charles Martel

    “The Church can’t afford to give the impression that it wants to keep tyrants in power”, but you want the killing of millions of innocent and defenceless human beings in their mothers’ wombs to remain legal. Take a long hard look at yourself.

  • Sszorin

    People like you support horrible regimes as long as they suppress the Church.

  • GFFM

    Since when does Western Europe care about the religious freedom of non-Muslims? Europe has stood by while Christians have been massacred, rail-roaded, raped, pillaged, beaten during this Swiftean named “Arab Spring.” In Egypt the Copts will either be killed or run out of the country; why does anyone think Syria will be any different?

  • CBSweeting

    Clearer examination of this all-important question might have avoided the outright hostility of the West towards this regime which should have been coaxed towards more acceptable behaviour in other areas

  • Simon

    Well said Edward Leigh ( and I am a ‘ Labour’  man ! ). The regimes of Saddam Hussain , Colonel Ghadafi and Hosni Mubarak were repugnant and inflicted Human Rights abuses on their own people , but ,sometimes it ‘s ‘ better the devil you know ‘ . I AM NOT DEFENDING ANY OF THEM.
        I want all people to be free from tyranny and Dictatorship , but it’s often not that simple. The old Egyptian regime at least wanted some sort of workable peace with Israel. The people in Egypt who helped to overthrow Mubarak are mainly horrified by the Islamic Brotherhood’s success in elections ( but that is Democracy for you ! ).  Is the new Egyptian President going to bring in Sharia Law and ban swimwear on the beach and ban alcohol ? If so , watch Egypt’s tourism trade collapse ( and a large part of Egypt’s economy with it ). But , that’s up to the Egyptian people , not us. 
      Assad’s regime in Syria has allegedly committed genocide against his own people , but are the opposition Freedom Fighters or Terrorists?. If they gain power will they respect the rights of Jews , Christians , Shiite Muslims and any other Minorities ? 
       A WW II British War Cemetery in Libya was allegedly attacked by some of the ‘Freedom Fighters’ we had helped depose Ghadafi , yet it was left alone all the time Ghadafi was in power ( even when Anglo / Libyan relations were at their worse ). 
         Tunisia was a secular Muslim country with respect for Christian and Jewish minorities , within a week of the President being deposed , a Polish Priest had had his throat cut. 
        I wish the majority of our politicians and journalists had been a bit more subjective . Their cheers for the Arab Spring may have been premature. My message to them is , ” be careful what you wish for “.

  • Simon

    Here , Here.

  • Simon

    Quite right ,The Church should not support any regime , but should be concerned for the plight of it’s own flock , other Christians and indeed every Human Being 

  • Simon

    There was a huge bomb set off in Syria last week allegedly by rebels / anti Assad Forces . They were targeting a military installation . Apparently these people who do this are ‘freedom fighters’ according to our press. When the IRA did this in Northern Ireland or the mainland UK they were quite rightly called  Terrorists . I know the UK  Government is Democratic and the Syrian one is a Dictatorship and can’t be compared  , but Assad will say he has the right to go after these people who attack his troops.