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Nun Condemns Violence in Syria Assad’s Regime

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A man carries the lifeless body of a boy following an air strike by Syrian forces in Azaz, 29 miles north of Aleppo, Syria, 15 Aug. Estimates of the number of people killed range as high as 28,000 since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011. More than a million people have been forced to leave their homes because of the violence. (Photo: CNS/Goran Tomasevic, Reuters)  

17 Aug 2012 – By Sarah MacDonald

DUBLIN (CNS) — A Carmelite nun said the armed insurrection in Syria is “producing a totalitarianism that is worse” than that of Bashar Assad’s regime.

Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross, superior of the community at the monastery of St. James the Mutilated in Qara, Syria, also appealed to the international community to stop supporting violent militias linked to al- Qaida and other extremist groups guilty of atrocities against innocent Syrian civilians.

“We know now that those people are not fighting for freedom, they are fighting for their values, and those values are not even those of moderate Islam, they are fundamentalist,” the Lebanese-born nun said.

“What has really scandalized us and leaves us in distress is that the Western world seems to be encouraging this rise of sectarian violence just to topple the (Assad) regime,” she said.

Mother Agnes Mariam, spokeswoman for the Catholic Media Center of the Melkite Catholic Archdiocese of Homs, said the insurgents were targeting religious minorities and executing moderate Sunnis such as journalists, researchers, doctors and engineers to pressure their families and communities into supporting an Islamist state. She claimed they were “destroying the delicate religious and ethnic balance” in Syria.

“You don’t know when it will be your turn to be considered a collaborator,” she explained of the arbitrary abductions, beheadings and killings being carried out as part of a campaign of terror by the insurgents against those they claim are working for the Assad regime. “It is a life of fear and insecurity.”

She described the international community’s public utterances in support of peace as “paradoxical” in view of the financial support recently pledged by Britain and the United States to the insurgents, whom she warned are “paralyzing civilian life.” The Sunni Muslim rebels are also backed by Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.

“This money will be used for weapons which will increase the violence,” Mother Agnes Mariam told Catholic News Service in Dublin in mid-August after a meeting with the papal nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, and with representatives of the Irish bishops' justice and peace council.

On Aug. 15, a panel of U.N. experts based in Geneva concluded that government forces and pro- government militias as well as armed insurgents had committed war crimes in the Syrian conflict between Feb. 15 and July 20. However, only the panel’s chairman was allowed to enter Syria to conduct interviews; other panelists were denied access.





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Tags: Syria Middle East Christians Middle East Arab Spring Carmelite Sisters