A Syrian priest reiterates the fact that Christians will strive to rebuild the trust that has been tainted by violence perpetrated by Islamic State. “We have to rebuild trust between Muslims and Christians even if it’s not easy,” said a Syrian priest Father Mtanios Haddad.
Expressing optimism for a return to his homeland, he said: “We’ll be back, yes. We will return to Iraq, to Mosul, to Syria, to Maalula, to Beirut and to every place we have lived. They are our homes and our lands. So, what are we going to leave them for? To whom? To what civilization? We must go back and rebuild trust between ourselves little by little. Even if it’s not easy.”
Minorities are facing a challenging aftermath of extremism and war as they have been singled out by the militants. Battered minorities claim to be citizens of their homelands who are simply not accepted in their own lands.
“If they want to reduce us to minorities, or treat us as if we are, or as if we are expatriates, I tell them that we do not feel that way. We are genuine citizens and landowners, who have rights and ask for a dignified life in our home country,” Father Haddad said.
Father Haddad is a Syrian and represents the Greek-Catholic patriarch in Rome. According to him, presence of Christianity in the Middle East is not optional but a necessity. “I am convinced that coexistence will not end,” he said.
“It should not end, because if it does, there will be no Christian presence. Without this presence, a new Jihad war could begin between a Muslim East and a Christian West. This Christian presence is what ensures the victory of balance and coexistence,” he explained.
Recent military offensive has pushed ISIS out of territories previously under their control. Their expulsion will enable refugees from Syria and Iraq to return to their homes. Accompanied by their return will be a task of rebuilding the trust and coexistence between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East.