ASIA/SYRIA - Church occupied by militias: the Christians are asking for the respect of Holy Places

Friday, 15 June 2012

Qusayr (Agenzia Fides) - The Greek-Catholic church of St. Elias in Qusayr, near the town of Homs, has been occupied by a group of gunmen of the Syrian opposition, that have established their base. As reported to Fides by eyewitnesses, on June 13, men, probably Islamic radicals stormed into the church, forcing the door, ringing bells and carrying out a demonstration of scorn that had raised concern among local Christian leaders (see Fides 13/06/2012). But the group, instead of leaving the building, camped inside the liturgical classroom and is now there permanently, carrying out all its activities. The local Church condemns the incident, defining such " behavior unacceptable and disrespectful toward a sacred place," as members of the hierarchy of the diocese of Homs report to Fides, they have also launched an appeal so that the current conflict "does not degenerate into the desecration of temples and sacred places, of all communities. "
Fides sources confirm that - as many observers have been arguing for weeks - in the city of Qusayr, south of Homs, there are radical Islamic Salafi groups that "want to fight a war of religion." In the meanwhile, the few Christians who had remained, mostly elderly people who did not want to leave their homes are escaping from Qusayr. At least a thousand faithful have fled in recent days after the ultimatum launched by an armed faction (see Fides 9 and 12/6/2012 and 9), which called on Christians to leave the city. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 15/6/2012)