WASHINGTON, D.C. (ICC) — The Syrian crisis is now two-and-a-half years old. and the damage of the conflict seems only to be worsening. Fueled by an increasing stream of jihadists with a stated goal of establishing an Islamic state, these groups have increasingly targeted the Christian community, forcing them to convert, flee, or be killed. The impact of extremist ideology is tearing apart the richly diverse social fabric of Syria, impacting all Syrians, but particularly targeting the Christians.
‘We Have Never Been Killed Just for Being Christian Until the 21st Century’
Though the uprising in Syria began primarily to end the brutal authoritarian reign of President Bashar al-Assad, for many in the opposition movement the aim has become the creation of an Islamic state, governed by a harsh interpretation of Islamic law and free of any Christian presence.
“For the terrorist people [foreign Jihadist fighters], the first step in their aim is to kill the Christian, or let them leave the country, or let them become a Muslim,” Dawoud*, a Christian from Damascus, told ICC.
While the attacks on Christians originally were because some in the opposition movements viewed them as loyal to the Assad regime, the reasons have now largely shifted. Bashir Ishak Saadi, a leader of the Assyrian Democratic Organization in Syria, told MidEast Christian News (MCN), “The Islamic Nusra Front antagonizes Christians because of their neutral position on the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and asks them to oppose the system officially and participate in ousting it, or else their suffering will continue.”
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