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Are Islamists targeting Christians in Homs? Catholic groups dispute cause of exodus

Catholic World News - March 27, 2012

A week after the Fides news agency quoted Syrian Orthodox sources as saying that Islamist forces were engaged in ethnic cleansing against Christians in Homs, local Jesuits have told Fides that Christians there are not targets of persecution.

But a leading Catholic charitable group, Aid to the Church in Need, supports the original Fides story, saying that Islamic militants have targeted the city’s Christian population.

“As far as we know, the Christians in the city of Homs have not been threatened and forced to flee their homes,” a Jesuit in Homs--Syria’s third-largest city--told Fides.

The Christian population of Homs has plummeted from 160,000 to 1,000 in the past year. Local Christians, the Jesuits said, have fled not because of Islamist persecution, but because of a desire for safety amid the conflict between government and rebel forces. But Aid to the Church in Need reports that 50,000 Christians have fled in the past 6 weeks, fearful of the "ethnic cleansing" that is being conducted by Islamic militants with ties to Al Qaida.

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  • Posted by: Defender - Mar. 27, 2012 11:45 AM ET USA

    With reports that militant extremists from other Arab countries are making their way to Syria and how the Muslim extremists are pushing the Copts out of areas in Egypt (et al), it's safe to say that the Christians in Homs have been "asked to leave."

  • Posted by: bruno - Mar. 27, 2012 7:02 AM ET USA

    I can't imagine two reports more diametrically opposed. Since, historically, the Jesuits are the most fearless of missionaries, I would expect them to confront those purportedly making the attacks in person. As such, they probably have the more balanced perspective of activity in Homs. Does anyone know, do they still keep and report their 'Reflections'?

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