Syrian Christians "won't give in" says Orthodox Patriarch in Easter message
File photo shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad receiving Greek Orthodox Patriarch John Yazigi in Damascus. (Photo courtesy of PressTV)
Syria’s Greek Orthodox Patriarch says Christians in the country will not “submit and yield” to extremists fighting against the Syrian government.
During his comments on Saturday to mark Easter, Patriarch John Yazigi called for an end to the practice of “intimidation, displacement, extremism and Takfiri mentality,” the official news agency SANA reported.
He underlined that Christians “will not submit and yield” to the Takfiri extremists who attack their people and holy places.
Some 1.8 million Christians reside in Syria, making up about 10 percent of the country’s population. The religious minority has been subjected to numerous attacks by extremist groups since the outbreak of violence in the country in March 2011.
The rebel groups captured the Christian town of Maaloula, which is regarded as a symbol of the ancient Christian presence in Syria, last December. However Syrian armed forces succeeded in retaking full control of the town on April 14.
“On the day of the resurrection of Christ, and from the heart of Maaloula, President Assad hopes all Syrians have a happy Easter, and for the reestablishment of peace and security throughout Syria,” state television said.
The report added that Assad had also toured a monastery damaged by militants in the recent clashes in the town.
Syria has been the scene of a deadly crisis since March 2011. The Western powers and their regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey -- are said to be supporting the militants operating inside Syria.