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Bishop distinguishes Syria’s Muslims from Saudi-backed militias

Catholic World News - August 29, 2014

At a press conference in Italy, the apostolic vicar of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, said that 60% of Christians have left the city.

Bishop George Abou Khazen, who ministers to Roman-rite Catholics, said that “the Muslim population in Syria is very moderate, and continues to be so,” according to the Zenit news agency. However, foreign militias “not only brought troops, but also the ulemas [legal scholars] and Saudis who began to preach an absolutely different Islam.”

Bishop Khazen said that “everyone knows” that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and to a lesser extent Turkey support Islamist militias who are fighting the Assad regime.

President Hafez al-Assad ruled Syria from 1971 to 2000, at which time his son Bashar al-Assad assumed office.

“In the beginning Assad’s father was harsh,” the prelate said, but “in the last years of his life, Assad’s father began to relax things, and with his son the opening was greater, almost total in some sectors, such as tourism, commerce, with sufficient security.”

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