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Thomas von der Osten-Sacken:Gab es gezielte Massaker an und Vertreibungen von den Christen aus Homs?
8. April 2012, 20.12 Uhr:

Gab es gezielte Massaker an und Vertreibungen von den Christen aus Homs?

von Thomas von der Osten-Sacken

Seit die Nachrichtenagentur des Vatikan meldete, dass 90% aller christlichen Bewohner von sunnitischen Milizen aus der Hochburg des Aufstandes in Syrien, der Stadt Homs, vetrieben worden seien, heißt es vermehrt, bei der Opposition handele es sich vornehmlich um djihadistische Gotteskrieger, die, sollte Assad stürzen, in Syrien Blutbäder unter Alawiten und Christen anrichten würden.

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, Oskar Svadkovsky und Phillip Smyth haben die Vorwürfe untersucht und kommen zu dem Ergebnis, es handele sich dabei um gezielte Falschpropaganda des syrischen Regimes:

This claim first gained wide distribution in a report published on March 21 by Agenzia Fides (the official Vatican news agency), which declared its source to be “a note sent to Fides by some sources in the Syrian Orthodox Church.”

Fides added that “in the ‘Faruq Brigade,’ note other sources, there seems [sic] to be armed elements of various Wahhabi groups and mercenaries from Libya and Iraq.”

The claim of 90 percent ethnic cleansing can actually be traced to a report put out on March 13 by an online Arabic outlet known as Al-Haqiqa (Arabic for “the truth").

A quick Google search reveals that the original memo sent to Fides by the church leaders had been copy-pasted almost down to the last word from the SyriaTruth site, which is notorious for its pro-regime propaganda. Officials of the Syrian Church did not confirm the story with anybody in Homs before sending out the memo. They must have presumed that the SyriaTruth writers did.

As a matter of fact, Al-Haqiqa had already been taken to task by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which specifically referred to its reporting of extensive Al-Qaida and international jihadist presence among the Syrian opposition as “bogus.”

Shortly after publishing the memo, Fides began backpedaling, in an attempt to mitigate the impact of the original report. [1] Later, it released another report quoting the “Jesuits of Homs,” who told the outlet that there were no cases to their knowledge of Christians being forced out of their homes by Islamists.

Homs happens to be around 30 kilometers from the border with Lebanon, which is home to a large and relatively powerful Christian community, making it a natural destination for Christian refugees - indeed, around 20,000 Iraqi Christians have found safety there since the 2003 invasion. Nevertheless, there has been no reported upsurge in Syrian Christian refugees to Lebanon in recent weeks. On March 8, the Christian Science Monitor reported a few thousand Syrian refugees fled to Lebanon - mostly Sunnis from the Bab Amr quarter of Homs.

Understandably, Christians have fled their homes amid fears of being caught in the crossfire. According to a report in Lebanon’s Daily Star, some Christians have been temporarily forced out of their homes by Sunni fighters, but only because they needed space to fight government forces; further, contrary to the claims of the Al-Haqiqa report, the fighters allowed the Christians to take what they needed.

Besides, the claims of straightforward ethnic cleansing by Islamist militants do not add up, because that is not how jihadist groups deal with Christians. For example, the standard practice in Iraq for jihadist groups like Al-Qaida - renowned in Iraq for its brutality - is to first demand jizya, which is a “poll-tax” imposed on Christian and Jewish minorities, in traditional Islamic theology. [2]

If the minorities fail to pay jizya, they face bomb attacks or other violence. Yet the reports in Al-Haqiqa and Fides make no reference to imposition of jizya.

There is little reason to doubt the motivation of Vatican and church leaders, who after Iraq have become extremely worried about the fate of the remaining Christian communities in the Middle East.

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