Feeling the most frightened and vulnerable are the city’s sizable religious minorities, foremost of which is the Christian community whose neighborhoods have borne the brunt of the recent carnage. For many, the timing was no coincidence.
“They attacked us on one of our most holy of days, this is a clear message to us. They want to drive us out of our homes, to get rid of us entirely. This is their aim. What have we done to them? Why is there silence about this?” Umm George, a visibly anguished resident of Sulaimaniyah, told Al-Monitor. She like many others was camped outside the government-run al-Razi hospital where most of the dead and wounded were taken.
Umm George had a sister inside who was seriously wounded and fighting for her life. Her sentiment was widely shared among others there, with some wanting revenge exacted, while others just raised their hands up to the sky, defeated, and prayed for an end to the madness. The feelings of helplessness and despair were enmeshed with those of bitterness at the perceived inability of the government to protect them. “They don’t care about Aleppo; it is a forgotten city,” was one phrase you would hear often repeated to many nods of agreement.
On Holy Friday, Christians mourn the death of Jesus, His martyrdom and his burial, after He was charged with “heresy” or “apostasy” for those intolerant religious men who condemned Him. Old times, new times, same symbolism.
Men are free. That was God’s present to us. And freedom comes with a responsibility. We should think which is our responsibility in actions like these of Aleppo. Of course these Arab Christians, these Nasrani, aren’t the only victims in that hellish scenario… but they are the ones who can teach us, the Western Christians, the real value of faith.
More than any other.
I just hope we, mankind, can save them, and keep them in that part of the world… or they will vanish in time as the Spanish Mossarabs did.
I, at least, will pray.