Published: 09:30 GMT Standard Time - Thursday 20 December 2012
Editorial: Barnabas charts deepening plight of Christians in Syria on timeline
Country/Region: Middle East and North Africa, Syria
Editorial: Barnabas charts dee...
As the crisis in Syria appears to be reaching a critical phase, Barnabas Aid has charted the suffering of the Christian community in a categorised timeline to show how targeted violence against them has intensified. Will the international community take note of their plight before it is too late?
Our timeline, which begins in April 2011 as violent “Arab Spring” protests were spreading through the country, has been compiled using a combination of media reports and first-hand information from our contacts in Syria. To protect our sources, we have not been able to name many of the victims.
The timeline reveals how anti-Christian hostility has become more and more brazen as the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad has gained strength, with Islamist jihadi groups playing an increasingly influential role among the rebels.
In the early days of the unrest, Christians, who have been well treated under President Assad and are therefore more inclined to support his regime, came under pressure to join the uprising. Demonstrations in Homs, which was to become a key battleground, were staged in Christian areas to intimidate the Christian residents, while elsewhere, in Hala, Christians were given an ultimatum either to join the protests or to leave.
It was not long before intimidation turned into violent attacks. The Christian community in Homs was beset by a spate of kidnappings and killings. In November 2011, a respected Christian figure reported that more than 140 Christians in the city had been murdered. The violence has continued unabated and spread to other parts of the country. The Christian death toll from Homs has risen to around 300 while in Aleppo, over 130 Christians have been killed.