From: Richard Thom [Email him]
I'm writing about an AP headline that appeared in Sunday's news: "Syrian rebels seize control of Christian village":
Syrian rebels led by Jabhat al-Nusra—an al-Qaida affiliated group of fighters—seized control of a predominantly Christian village northeast of Damascus, sweeping into the mountainside sanctuary in heavy fighting overnight and forcing hundreds of residents to flee. Around 1,500 rebels occupied Maaloula, an ancient village that is home to two of the oldest surviving monasteries in Syria.
Three years ago, your correspondent (and wife Linda) walked through the streets and narrow lanes of Maaloula, seen below,
examined the icons dating from the 13th century in the 4th-century Church of St. Sergius, and climbed the steep steps to the Monastery of St. Tekla, reportedly a follower of St. Paul.
Today, Maaloula residents reached by telephone described fierce battles in the streets (regime troops have surrounded the village) as opposition fighters flooded the village. The bearded rebels shouted "God is great" as they attacked Christian homes and churches. "They shot and killed many people" said another resident by phone. One of the churches has been torched. Yet another resident reported that he saw militants forcing some Christian residents to convert to Islam.
"I saw the militants grabbing five villagers....and threatening them. 'Either you convert to Islam or you will be beheaded'", he said.
The fact that this village is Christian is irrelevant—it could be any other faith—Hindu for that matter—that is a minority one in Syria. Despite the undisputed cruelty of Bashar al-Assad (as well as his father)—themselves members of a minority religion (Alawite) in Syria—minority religions have been tolerated in Syria. A strained tolerance, perhaps; a fragile one—but tolerance nonetheless.
And now the United States is proposing in a major military way to assist this motley band of rebels (including many non-Syrians who have infiltrated the country) in overthrowing the regime and replacing it with—what? A Sunni Muslim government with all their 7th-century enlightenment; their Sharia Law; their disgusting and degrading treatment of women; and of course—as illustrated by the above "just a little bit of pressure" religious conversion techniques—their well-known tolerance?
Trading. Trading one monstrous government for another monstrous government.
Is everyone in Washington DC out of their minds?
Richard Thom is a retired executive with Raytheon Corporation in Santa Barbara, California.
Linda Thom, who forwarded this to us, writes
"Rich and I were in Syria in April 2010. Rich took many photos including these in Maaloula, Syria. I cried yesterday. I couldn't even finish reading the news about the horror inflicted upon these people by al Qaeda rebels. Is beheading Syrians worse than slaughtering them with poison gas? And, if the murdering ever ends, do we want to 'save' Syrian refugees by moving them to America?"