Sunday, June 10, 2012

"Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the Coffin": Are Sunnis of Syria Creating Fear Among the Minority Populations?

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Cities in Syria with substantial Christian populations
One of the major reasons that the minorities in Syria - primarily the Alawites and the Christians - have not joined the revolution in greater numbers is that they are terrified of what will happen to them if the primarily Sunni-driven revolt succeeds.  Clearly, given the Alawites support of the regime and recent battles between the Alawites and Sunnis, the Alawites have reason to be concerned.

The Alawites, however, are not the only ones worried about what will happen if the revolt succeeds.  Many Christians look at Iraq, where there were a wave of attacks against Christians after Saddam Hussein was overthrown and over half the Christian population of Iraq emigrated.  The map to the right shows the major cities where Christians in Syria live.  There was a recent article in the newspaper USA Today about how the Christians in Syria are also quite uneasy about what might happen to them in a post-Assad Syria.  Below is an excerpt from the article quoting a Syrian Christian:
"But what we heard from (the protesters) at the beginning of this revolution saying, 'Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the coffin,' started us thinking about the real aim of this revolution," he said. "So from this point of view, fearing for my life, I declared my support for President Assad."
 From this perspective, it seems clear that while many Christians sympathize with the protesters and would prefer to live in a democracy, until they feel more comfortable about their security in a post-Assad Syria they will likely not join the largely Sunni-based revolt against the regime.  Here is the full USA Today article.

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