BEIRUT: Dictatorships of the ilk of President Bashar Assad’s regime represent an existential threat to the Christians of the Middle East, Lebanese Forces MP Fadi Karam said Saturday, responding to calls for the protection of the Christians of Syria from jihadists.
“I want to clarify that the existential threat to Christians in the region has always been these regimes that draw red lines between communities, liberals and intellectuals and the Christians will only be safe if these regimes collapse,” Karam said in a statement.
“These regimes are trying to maintain oppression by disseminating rumors of division and extremism,” he added.
Karam said his statement was in response to the Orthodox Gathering, which on Friday urged the U.S. to think twice before launching a military strike on Syria, citing the risk this would have on Christians there.
The Gathering warned of the rise of extremists in Syria, noting the recent attack by the Nusra Front, a group affiliated with Al-Qaeda, in the predominantly Christian village of Maaloula near Damascus.
Assad’s regime has repeatedly claimed that it is fighting foreign-backed extremist groups and denies targeting civilians in the now more than two-year-old conflict.
Karam criticized the Gathering’s statement and described its call for the protection of Christians as containing an implicit appeal to defend the Syrian leader.
Assad has been accused by Western governments of being behind a series of chemical weapons attacks against civilians. Damascus denies using its chemical weapons arsenal during the crisis.
“What the Gathering issued was not justified and drew suspicion when it asked Christian spiritual leaders to swiftly put a strategic plan to protect the Christians, which, reading between the lines, suggests it is calling for a plan to defend Assad’s regime based on the Maaloula events,” Karam said.
LF head Samir Geagea has repeatedly called on Christians to join the opposition and play an active role in the “Arab Spring” rather than adopt isolationist policies.
“These criminal regimes who have subjected the people of the region are now trying through deception and lies to subjugate those who have never been subjugated, and they are the Eastern Christians whose history is filled with struggle, freedom, openness as well as opposition to isolation and fear,” Karam said.
He also said that the Assad regime was putting forward a false theory that Christians were facing an existential threat in order to draw them into the “line of defense for such dictatorships.”