Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, titular of the eparchy of Hassaké-Nisibis in Syria, expressed his hope that the upcoming Geneva II Middle East Peace Conference would open “prospects for democracy, freedom and equality for Syria.”
The conference, which is set to begin on January 22nd, will take place in Geneva with the goal of ending the Syrian civil war which has ravaged the country for several years. The UN backed meeting will bring the current Syrian regime and the opposition to the table to discuss a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
However, according to Fides News Agency, Archbishop Hindo expressed concern that Sharia law will be introduced, thus reducing the status of the Christian community to a “protected minority.”
“Christians will be glad if the so-called revolution opens the path to democracy and freedom. But now even opposition groups linked to the Free Syrian Army – which are presented as moderate compared to jihadist formations – have come together under the Islamist flag, and they say that in the new Syria the Sharia law will have to be applied, because this is what the majority wants. This is a perspective that Christians cannot accept”.
If Christians in the country are labelled as a minority, the Archbishop said, it would effectively diminish their status as an “integral part of the common Homeland, full citizens.”
Concluding his remarks, Archbishop Hindo denied assertions that Christians sided with the regime of President Bashir al-Assad, citing factions outside the country who are manipulating the revolution.
“At the beginning the demonstrations against the government demanded freedom, democracy, an end to corruption. Then they came from outside to steal the revolution. The Syrian people do not want barbarism and tyranny disguised with religious words,” he said.