Years of civil war in Syria have taken a heavy toll on different ethnic and religious groups across Syria. But while the fighting has mostly focused on a Sunni Islamist rebellion and an Alawite-dominated government, it is the smaller religious minorities that have seen the worst of it.
In comments to the BBC today, Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III Laham said that 450,000 members of the Christian community in Syria have been displaced from their homes, either internally or forced to flee abroad.
That’s about one third of the ancient community’s overall population, and while the patriarch insisted he is confident Syrian Christendom will survive the war, it’s looking pretty bad.
Islamist rebels have repeatedly targeted Christian towns in and around their territory, accusing them of being sympathetic to the Assad government. While most of the Christians have tried to avoid taking sides in the increasingly ugly war, it is impossible for them to not notice the trend, and if al-Qaeda indeed ended up winning the war, the Christians would not be welcome to stay.
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