|Persecution Type:||Islamic oppression|
|Leader:||President Bashar al-Assad|
The country’s years-long civil war has left it in turmoil, and Christians have not been spared from that suffering. Christians are caught in the crossfire between government troops and rebel forces, especially at the frontlines. Additionally, Christians are at risk if forces antagonistic to Christianity rule their home regions. Even in more secure parts of Syria, Christians who have converted from Islam face pressure and discrimination from their communities.
Due to their public visibility, the leaders of historical churches are particularly targeted for abduction. But Baptist, Evangelical and Pentecostal congregations are also in a vulnerable position as they are known for their more Western orientation, fragmentation, lack of strong leadership and lack of a foreign spokesperson (like a Pope or a bishop) who can speak out on their behalf.
In areas controlled by radical Islamic groups, most historic churches have been either demolished or used as Islamic centers. Public expressions of Christian faith in these regions are prohibited and church buildings or monasteries cannot be repaired or restored irrespective of whether the damage was collateral or intentional.
Christians who converted from Islam are often put under pressure by their family, as conversion brings great dishonor to the family. This is particularly true in majority Sunni areas, where converts risk being expelled from their family homes or worse. Pressure from the family is somewhat less intense in Kurdish areas, as the Kurdish Sunnis are generally less radical.
On July 11, 2019, the Syrian Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary in Qamishli, north-eastern Syria, was targeted in a car bomb attack. State media reported that 11 civilians were injured, the church gate was dented and nearby shops severely damaged.
On May 12, 2019, the Christian town of al-Suqaylabiyah in north-western Syria came under heavy assault. As a result of heaving shelling, five young children died who were playing near a monastery during a Sunday school gathering, including their teacher. Four others were injured. One week later, a sixth child died of his injuries.
In November 2018, according to Syrians for Truth and Justice: A radical Islamist group “seized 400 houses and 50 shops, owned by Christians, in the province of Idlib.” Reportedly, the violent group considers such property to be the spoils of war. As a result of loss of property and violations of their rights, most of the Christians in Idlib have moved to government-held areas or abroad.
In-depth research for Open Doors' 2020 World Watch List shows that at least eight Christians, largely in Sub-Saharan Africa, die at the hands of persecutors (extremists, family members and state authorities) each day. Read More
After leading his church through the recent Turkish incursion, Pastor George in Qamishli is facing persecution of a different kind for the simple reason of rebuilding his church that was damaged in the ISIS war. Read More