Last Sunday, Christian services across Syria were abuzz with speculation about the kidnapping of 12 Christian nuns from Maaloula. With a video released Friday showing the still-held nuns, concern has ballooned into outright fear.
“They’re coming after us,” warned one Christian woman in metro Damascus, while others echoed concerns that the al-Qaeda dominated Islamist rebels are planning to oust the Christians from their ancestral homes.
Syria is home to some of the world’s oldest Christian communities, and towns like Maaloula have survived centuries of different incidents. With al-Qaeda accusing them of supporting the Assad government, they’re a target in a way unseen in many generations, and the fear is that if the Islamists win the war, they may be forced to flee outright.
The Christian communities in Iraq saw a major exodus after years of al-Qaeda targeting, and in Syria the situation may be much the same. Despite efforts by their leadership to stay out of the civil war, Syria’s Christians have become a target.