Syrian Catholic Bishop: Were it not for SAA and Russia, we would have been eliminated/ Interview by Hanin Elias

Syriac Catholic Bishop: Were it not for SAA & Russia, we would have been eliminated – YouTube

Transcript by Rawan Mahmasa

First of all, I’d like to thank you. In fact, your visit touches our hearts, especially that we are experiencing difficult crisis. Ladies like yourself, dedicated their time to ask about our conditions. The diplomatic channels have been   closed on our faces. They don’t want to listen to the voices of the Syrian people. The whole world speaking in the name of the Syrian people but no one wants to listen to the Syrian people. So we are the voice of the righteousness in the middle of this chaos. That’s why I’d like to than you because you are listening to us.

We who have suffered a lot. I didn’t only suffer in Syria. I’ve also seen the Syrian people forced to leave to Lebanon. My evaluation to the situation is that it’s a global war on Syria. War of aggression, war of destruction. The concept of revolution needs science and philosophy. Unfortunately, we fight philosophy in our country.  Just name me an Arab philosopher in the recent times. I know many German or European philosophers but I don’t remember an Arab philosopher. Of course there are Arab writers but they’re not philosophers. We are suffering from serious problems in the Arab mentality. I’m not against the concept of revolution and change. We are accused of being pro-regime. No! we are with our legitimate state and the national army. As clergymen, we are with our people. They know us and we know their needs. We didn’t abandon our people and flee during the crisis.

Talking is easy, but when someone assaults you, we have the right to defend ourselves. Syria has been assaulted by big countries who wants to export us democracy? I don’t want to speak about Saudi Arabia. I’ve lived in Italy and Europe for 15 years. The Italian people were against the war on Iraq. So why the Italian Army invaded Baghdad? Was it a voluntary job? Look how many Italian soldiers died in Iraq. There is no real democratic country. Maybe it exists only in Switzerland. So democracy is not something absolute. Moreover, no country has the right to change the political system of another country. I’ve studied law, this is international law. You have no right to say you want my President or not! I choose my President. You don’t intervene in your political affairs. You have no right to intervene in our internal affairs. I’ve lived in Europe and I didn’t see democracy there.

Interviewer: You’ve lived in Europe but now attractions have been offered to Christians of Middle East to leave to Europe where they can live in democratic countries and enjoy freedom of speech. Freedom of religious practice. As Syriac Catholic Bishop, what’s your position on these attractions?

Bishop: First of all, some say we are minority in the middle east, I believe Christians are minority all over the world. For example, in France, Christians are also a minority. The percentage of atheists is higher. But to countries where after one month they’ll become just a number. I feel sad about the European people more than my people who chose to migrate to Europe. I don’t replace my country with the whole world. I was a head of institute in Rome. The European people are consumers. They work and get tired a lot. The same thing applies in the US. I pity them. I hold a doctorate degree in law, I’ve studied 2 years in France and 5 years in Italy. So I’ve been asked to go to Italy.

Interviewer: and how was your experience?

Bishop: they’re very kind people but they work a lot. They are only consumers. Our people are happier. Before the war, Syrian schools, universities and health care were all for free. Jobs were available, and Syria was one of the safest countries in the world. But after the so-called Arab Spring, these state institutions have been destroyed. I’m against the emigration of my people. They will not be happy there. I’m not saying Europeans don’t values or comfort lives but the French revolution has marginalized God.

Interviewer: in regards to the role of the churches in Syria. How do they communicate with the Syrian government regarding the peace talks with militants?

Bishop: the role of the Church is effective. The man who achieved national reconciliation in Homs is Father Michel Naaman. No one dares to accompany militants except father Michel Naaman. The man behind al-Waar and Old Homs reconciliation is Father Naaman. I’m proud of these Priests because they stayed with the people and didn’t flee. Do you know how much is the salaries of these priests? 60$ per month. Not even enough to fill your car’s gasoline but they still help the people and they did not flee despite of attractions.

The Syrian people didn’t flee from Syria. Christians who left Syria had certain problems. And they didn’t flee despite of attractions. The Syrian people didn’t flee from Syria. Christians who left Syria had certain problems. A mother who wants to see her daughter abroad. Some of them did not hear the shelling and war but they did not escape despite the constant shelling. We were martyred and did not run away. Syrian Christians didn’t escape despite the shelling. The real problem is the wrong policies of the US and the weakness of the European position. Europe is weak and doesn’t have independent decision. If Europe relies on its values and its strength.

Were it not for Russia. We would have been slaughtered. My family was subjected and slaughtered. There is not alternative to Assad. If you have to choose between Assad and jungle, you choose Assad because in the jungle you might face an elephant you might meet a dinosaur.

What type of culture are they trying to export to Syria! The culture of ISIS and beheading. Didn’t you see how they beheaded people because the victims are different from them? What kind of religion is this? This has nothing to do with Islam. ISIS is a political party which has goals and been sent from outside. We are living in peace in Syria. There is no civil war here. We love each other and we live together. We don’t  even know if someone is a Christian or Muslim.

Interviewer: but Western Media portrays what’s happening here as a civil war.

Bishop: We’ve received and helped the families of the militants. So far, the Syrian government is paying salaries in areas under the control of the militants. The Syrian Army does not kill its people. The Syrian Army protects its people. You as a Syrian girl, are you afraid when you see a Syrian soldier? But aren’t you afraid when you see a masked militant?

Interviewer: of course!

Bishop: I’m optimistic and confident that Syria will prevail over the enemies because we are the righteous people. We are defending ourselves. I want to say this for the sake of history: if the Syrian people are against President Assad, he wouldn’t survive for a month. The Syrian people support President Assad that’s why he survived all this time. He is not an Alawite, but 100% Syrian. He serves all Syrians not only the alawites sect.

Western media say Syria might be divided on sectarian and ethnic lines. Syria will not be divided. Damascus has rejected the division of Lebanon and will reject the division of Syria.

Interviewer: Your Excellency, do you want to deliver a message to the Western governments and media who claim helping the Syrian people through certain organization such as the White Helmets and calling the Western people to donate to this organization?

Bishop: I know one thing for certain, if they want to help us, let them help us stay in Syria and the Middle East. Muslims need the Christians to stay and we will stay. No one can force us to leave. Our roots in this land. We leave when we decide to leave and we chose to stay. In my opinion, these donors should come to Syria and see who is helping the Syrian people.  No one is helping us except God.

Syriana Analysis

The Berlin-based Syrian artist and political activist Hanin Elias has conducted an exclusive interview for Syriana Analysis portal with His Excellency, Jano Battah.  The Bishop of the Syriac Catholic Church spoke about the situation in Syria, the reality of the events and the plight of the Christians.  ————————————————————————————————-

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