Virginia state senator Richard Black traveled to Syria on a three-day trip last week to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and to highlight the extinguishing of Christianity in Syria.
Sen. Black is not the only one voicing concern over the extinction of Mideast Christians via ongoing US policy of overthrowing foreign governments in the Mideast to replace them with al-Qaeda laced jihadists that oppose democracy and human rights. Other U.S. officials such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), share this alarm.
As a result this policy has given rise to foreign perception that U.S. is secretly supporting ISIS and Al-Qaeda, and as former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chas Freeman noted “our policy has consisted of funneling weapons to Syrian and foreign opponents of the Assad government, some of whom rival our worst enemies in their fanaticism and savagery.”
In April it was reported that majority of Iraqis regard the U.S. as an enemy and a supporter of ISIS, while in Syria, Christians perceive the U.S. and its allies are serving a Saudi agenda to export the extremist Arab Gulf Wahhabism to the Mediterranean and extinguish other religious minorities.
In a September 2015 Catholic Herald article, Ed West observed “there is something especially sinister about the way our governments have followed a Wahhabi-led scheme to overthrow a secular dictatorship, a revolution that would almost certainly endanger Christians in the land of St. Paul”—in reference to the biblical Apostle Paul who spread Christianity from the cradle of Syria out to the Western world during the first century.
Indeed, it was the history of Syria and its centrality in Christianity that prompted Assad on 2 March 2009 to premier the film “Damascus” about the life of the Apostle Paul—three years before the Arab Spring. Amazed by the role of Christianity in Syria’s lineage, Assad premiered the film in the Damascus Opera House with over 1,100 Muslim clerics, and senior Syrian government officials, journalists, business leaders in attendance.
The film was written, produced and directed entirely by Syrian Protestant Christians, and several years later, these Christians would turn to Assad to protect them from Western-backed jihadists.
As U.S. and its allies subsequently unleashed Wahhabis into Syria, during a battle between government forces and al-Nusra laced Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the Christian town of Maaloula, a Christian addressed the BBC cameraman with these piercing words: “Tell the Europeans and the Americans that we sent you St. Paul 2,000 years ago to take you from the darkness, and you sent us terrorists to kill us.”
Perception of Washington backing Islamic extremists is reinforced by government officials’ treatment of Syrian Christians when they asked for help. In 2014 when Syrian Christian leaders met with U.S. officials to warn the “rebels” they support are infested with al Qaeda and other extremists, Sen. John McCain yelled at them and stormed out of the room, prompting Sen. Lindsay Graham to quickly apologize on his behalf.
Further evidence of U.S. officials backing FSA members that later joined ISIS and Al Qaeda reinforces this view.
Moreover, U.S. media also appear to be complicit in backing the extremists and largely remained silent, when in 2013 FSA aligned with Al Nusra to conduct the massacre of 45 Christian men, women and children in the town of Sadad where they still speak Aramaic, the language of Christ.Two years later, when yet another Islamic extremist group ISIS threatened to exterminate Christians in Sadad, this time Syrians—Christians, Muslims, and Alawites—all rushed to fight as one to defend Sadad and their pluralistic society against foreign-backed jihad in their country.
Desperate, “Cradle” Christians from the Mideast partnered with retired Congressman Frank Wolf last June to feature a film at the National Press Club to highlight the issue of genocide, Christians, and the mute acceptance of evil.
Named “Sing a Little Louder,” this 12-minute film is based on the true story of an old man who remembers the horrors of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany, and the passivity of his parents, pastor, and fellow Christians in the face of ultimate evil.
In the film a train carrying Jews to concentration camps breaks down in front of a church. The worshipers inside could hear the captive Jews banging on the inside of their car, screaming for help. But not one heeded the distressed calls of their fellow human beings, and instead the pastor raised his voice to preach his sermon, and then instructed the choir and congregation to sing a little louder to drown out the wailing prisoners.
Now, as the ceasefire broke down and Al Monitor columnist Edward Dark reported western-backed jihadi rebels are indiscriminately shelling West Aleppo and elsewhere, the Syrian civilians and especially the Christians have realized they are alone and America is not on their side. As the Pentagon confirmed, Al Nusra dominates Aleppo, aligned with western-backed opposition including Asian rebel groups from China, Central Asia, especially Uzbekistan that are known as ‘Aleppo Uzbeks’.
On Palm Sunday as rebel shells rain down and explode around them, Syria’s beleaguered Christians—even terrified little girls with tears streaming down their faces—continue to worship and pray in the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Suqaylabiyah—singing their swan song as they slowly become extinct in the cradle of Christianity.
In the U.S. and elsewhere in the world, it seems everyone will just sing a little louder.
An earlier version is published in Asia Times on May 3, 2016.