– Syrian Christians turning to Russia for protection (Voice of Russia, Oct 16, 2013):
About 50,000 Syrian Christians want to apply for Russian citizenship. In a letter to the Russian Foreign Ministry, they said that they were not planning to flee Syria, but if threatened with physical elimination, they would pin their hopes on Russia as the guarantor of their survival. Analysts think that despite the difficulties their request may involve, it won’t go unheeded.
The letter reached Moscow through diplomatic channels. It says that the West-backed terrorists are prepared to go to any lengths to wipe Christians out of Syria. The authors of the letter have no intention of fleeing the “land on where Jesus walked” and promise to defend their “homeland, dignity and faith”. They see Russia as the guarantor of “peace and stability”. They are not asking for money or humanitarian aid, but just hope to obtain Russian citizenship. “We will be under the protection of Russia if we face the threat of being physically eliminated by terrorists,” the letter says.
Considering what’s going on in Syria, their wish to have Russian passports looks justified, Stanislav Tarasov, Director of the Middle East-Caucasus research center, told the Voice of Russia.
“For them, it’s a laissez-passer. No one knows what will happen to Syria. Some forecasts suggest that, with or without Assad, Syria may become a confederation, or it may split into three or four parts and cease being single state. That’s why the Syrian Christians are trying to secure Russia’s support,” he said.
About 50,000 Syrians put their signatures under the address – medics, engineers, lawyers and businessmen residing in the Kalamoun area near Damascus. The fact that so many people signed the letter throws weight behind it, but on the other hand it makes things more complicated for Russia, said Sergei Sergeichev, a senior fellow at the Institute for Middle East Studies in Moscow.
“Not that it puts us in an awkward situation, but it sort of diverts the Russian Foreign Ministry’s efforts as the ministry is obliged to react to that address”, says Sergeichev. “We cannot say ‘no’ to those people. But if we say ‘yes’ and then something happens, then we will have to evacuate huge numbers of Russian citizens. And it doesn’t matter whether those are people solely with Russian citizenship or they have two passports – Russian and Syrian. If the president orders evacuation, they will have to be evacuated, which is a very complicated rescue operation.”
Syria is not the only country where Christians do not feel safe. According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life research organization, Christians are persecuted and harassed in 130 countries.
Today, Christians are the most persecuted religious community. Every hour, one Christian is killed in the world. They are killed because of their faith.