ASIA/SYRIA - Assad receives the Patriarch and six Syrian Catholic Bishops: "the President is planning a totally new secular Constitution"

Friday, 17 June 2016 international politics

Damascus (Agenzia Fides) - Syrian President Bashar Assad is planning a new Constitution for the nation led by him, to ensure equal rights for all citizens and eliminate discrimination toward religious minorities. These are some of the projects for the future confided by the same Assad to a delegation of the Syriac Catholic Church, composed by Patriarch Ignace Youssif III accompanied by six Bishops, received by Syrian President in Damascus on Monday, June 13.
During the meeting, which lasted an hour and a half, Assad expressed his intention to remove from the new Constitution, even the provision which binds the Head of the Syrian State to profess the Muslim religion.
The Syrian leader was also convinced that in a few days the conflict which broke out again in Aleppo will be completely resolved, with the creation of a military blockade around the city to prevent the supply of weapons to the outlying suburbs in the hands of opposing forces, but without attacks on the neighborhoods, to prevent further suffering to civilians.
"President Assad placed great emphasis on the international aspect of the Syrian conflict, stressing that now in words everyone wants to fight the jihadists of the Islamic State (Daesh)", refers to Agenzia Fides Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, head of the Syriac Catholic diocese of Hassaké-Nisibis, who was present at the meeting.
In the conversation between the President and the members of the ecclesial delegation, there were even hints at the rumors of a possible division of Syria on ethnic and sectarian basis, with the creation of an independent Kurdish State and an Islamist one, scenarios that Assad has always rejected.
In the meeting with the Patriarch and the Syrian Catholic Bishops, Syrian President made no direct mention of the Pope or the Holy See, and instead called on his counterparts to intensify contacts and share opinions and initiatives with respect to the tragic situation in the Middle East with the Russian Orthodox Church. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 17/06/2016)