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Syria: Melkite Patriarch fearful of escalating conflict

Catholic World News - April 29, 2011

The worldwide leader of the Melkite Catholic Church has expressed concern that political turmoil in Syria could hasten the exodus of Christians from that country in particular and the Middle East in general. Patriarch Gregory III Laham of Antioch told the AsiaNews service that the Muslim Brotherhood has assumed a prominent role in the demonstrations against the current Syrian government. While he expressed sympathy for demonstrators' demands for greater freedom, he voiced misgivings that some radicals are manipulating the conflict to destabilize the regime. Christians in Syria, he reported, are worried that Islamic fundamentalists could come to power if the regime falters.

The Melkite Catholics of Syria celebrated Easter quietly, the Patriarch says, out of respect for those who have been killed in the recent unrest. But he fears continuing violence, and hopes that the demonstrations can be resolved without a full-scale revolution.

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