Al-Qaeda linked terrorist groups in Syria attacked Saidnaya, an ancient Christian city in Syria. The men come from the Yabroud and Lebanese mountains and one raid killed a Catholic man.
The city is positioned in the mountains just north of the capitol Damascus. It has always been a Christian town and residents still speak Aramaic, which is believed to be the language of Jesus Christ. The monasteries and churches date back to the Byzantine Empire and Middle Ages. The city is a spot for Christian pilgrimages.
“This is banditry but it is also a vendetta against Christians. We would not want to give a meaning to these acts of religious persecution, but they are targeted attacks that have the effect of creating confusion and fear among civilians,” one Saidnaya Christian priest told Fides.
“Today the people of Saidnaya are afraid of having the same fate as Maalula,” he added.
However, like many other Christian cities, the civil war that erupted two years ago has made them targets. Earlier this week a group of terrorists attacked a Melkite Greek-Catholic Church in al-Raqqa. Rebels forced 2,000 Christians to flee from Maaloula. Many of them now live in Damascus and demand more action to protect them.
“We appeal strongly to the international community. Nobody helps us, Islamic radicalism is becoming more discriminatory. We feel unprotected. No one does anything to prevent these human right abuses: we ask the U.N. Commission in Geneva to intervene,” one of the representatives told Fides.
Christians are being persecuted across the Middle East and it is only getting worse. The Coptic Christians have been under attack since Morsi took over and it did not get better when the military overthrew him in July. The al-Qaeda group al-Shabaab targeted non-Muslims at the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Two suicide bombers attacked an Anglican church in Pakistan two weeks ago.