Terrified Christians claim Syrian rebels ordered them to convert to Islam on pain of death when they ‘liberated’ their ancient village [later, DM notes: "The beautiful mountain village, 25 miles from Damascus, is one of the few places in the world where residents still use the ancient language of Aramaic, which was spoken by Jesus and his disciples."].
Opposition forces, including fighters linked to Al Qaeda, gained temporary control of the Christian village of Maaloula after fighting with regime forces.
The reports have reignited fears about western support for the rebel groups, which are increasingly being infiltrated by Islamic extremists. [--> or should that be, increasingly dominated by Islamist extremists?]
One Maaloula resident said the rebels, many of whom had beards and shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great), attacked Christian homes and churches shortly after moving into the village.
‘They shot and killed people. I heard gunshots and then I saw three bodies lying in the middle of a street in the old quarters of the village. Where is President Obama to see what has befallen us?’
Another Christian resident said: ‘I saw the militants grabbing five villagers and threatening them and saying, “Either you convert to Islam, or you will be beheaded”.’ ["Syrian village is 'liberated' by rebels... who then forced Christians to convert to Islam," Daily Mail, Sept 8, 2013.]
In the short term, the answer is to break the fighting and bring all stakeholders to the table, backed up by enough will and force to get a reasonably civilised compromise.
Unfortunately, will is plainly lacking, and we need to realise that Syria reportedly disposes of the largest stockpile of chemical weapons left in the world.
Longer term, Islamist extremism needs to be exposed, shamed and decisively defeated ideologically, leading to collapse.
That means, scream, menace and worse, they must be exposed.
And then, again and again, for years.
Until they break.
Then we need to hammer the proverbial stake through the heart and mount a guard on the grave.
That is what happened with Communism.
So, we know the approach works.
All that is needed is the will to stand in the face of every attempt to distract, discredit the bearer of unwelcome truth, or even murder attempts and terrorist attacks.
If we do not lance the boil, blood poisoning lurks.
And, as our Lord tells us, the spiritual strong man must be bound and stripped of his armour and arms, if those he holds captive are to be set free. END