Syria: 'our world needs a revolution against violence'
"The only way of stopping the extremists is to enter into a dialogue with Islam. "
Mourad was prior of the Mar Elian monastery, a pilgrimage centre near the city
of al-Qaryatayn that was briefly occupied by ISIS, which destroyed the
monastery and kidnapped the monk in May 2015. He was held for five months,
before he managed to escape. Now based in Europe, he spoke Oct. 17, 2016 with international
Catholic charity Aid to the Church about the situation in Syria.
By Berthold Pelster
In early April 2016, al-Qaryatayn was finally freed from ISIS. How is the situation there
The city may have been liberated, bu normal, everyday life is not yet possible.
Most houses have been destroyed. But at least electricity and water have in the
meantime been restored. However, most people have not yet returned to
al-Qaryatayn. The fear that ISIS will come back is great.
war in Syria continues unabated. Peace negotiations have repeatedly failed.
Many people are fleeing, including Christians. How great is the danger that
Christianity will be obliterated in the Middle East?
This obliteration has already become reality. There are regions in Iraq and
Syria that no longer have any Christian inhabitants. But the people are not
fleeing willingly. They have no other choice. This is especially true for the
Christians in Syria, because we are a small minority. The violence that reigns
in Syria is unbearable. I do not understand why other countries refuse to see
this reality and take action. The world must finally react!
What actions are needed?
If the world is really serious about putting an end to the ravages of the fanatics,
then it will have to stop doing business with Saudi Arabia. Because that is
where the funding and weapons for ISIS are coming from. Bombing achieves nothing.
The US has been bombing Syria and Iraq for years, and now the Russians are
doing so too.And what have they achieved? Have they stopped the terrorist
violence? Absolutely not!
What is the
The solution cannot be simply eliminating those who persecute us. The only way
of stopping the extremists is to enter into a dialogue with Islam. That has
been my personal experience. We—all the Christians of my old parish—decided not
to resort to violence, even despite the danger. That is why we are still alive.
An ISIS leader told us exactly that: “You ‘People of the Book,’ [the term used
for Jews and Christians in the Koran] do not even use violence against us.”
Thus, non-violence and dialogue are what Christians can and should
Last spring, I had the following inspiration during Mass: our world needs a
revolution against violence. Only then will it be able to find peace. We want
to be instruments of peace. This is how we did it in Mar Elian—we provided aid
to the local people without considering any distinctions of religion.
Father Jacques Mourad; ACN photo