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Patriarch blasts media coverage of Syrian conflict

Catholic World News - February 24, 2012

Amid fears that majority rule in Syria could lead to an Islamic republic that infringes upon the religious freedom, the head of the Syrian Catholic Church has offered strong criticism of the Western media coverage of the conflict there.

“Regarding the media, I can tell you that we Christians--I don’t know if I express the feelings and the thoughts of all Christians--but since I have been following this situation, we feel that we have been deceived by the Western nations,” said Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Yonan, whose Eastern Catholic church has 132,000 members. “Deceived, not only disappointed. Deceived because we think that the West has forgotten the bulk of the situation in the Middle East. It’s not political, it’s not economical, it’s profoundly confessional, even religious.”

“Because we were thinking that the West will uphold the civil rights for all,” he added. “Civil rights, that means freedom of religion, of conscience, respecting others, or granting the same rights to all citizens, either from the minority or majority. But this was forgotten because they are thinking, and the media conglomerates are helping in that direction, that if the majority takes the power in those powers in the Middle East, that means that democracy will be reached or will be exercised. We think that democracy is not only because the majority of a population acts according to its convictions, or make decisions freely, but democracy has to respect first of all the basic rights.”

Fearing that Syria will descend into civil war, the patriarch added:

We try to tell, especially the Western powers: look, democracy is not a kind of just one day to another. It needs some time. And the best way to build that democracy will be helping all parties to sit together and find a way with the help of international partners, or the Arab League nations. But at least it’s saying that with regard to help all parties to find a solution together. It’s not going to be an easy one, but it will be the only way to help that country overcome that, the fears of civil war.

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