Visiting France on the occasion of the Night of Witnesses organized each year by Aid to the Church in Need, the Greek Melkite Archbishop of Aleppo, Mgr Jeanbart, had a heavy heart. After describing the dramatic situation facing Aleppans, the Syrian bishop addressed the audience of journalists there:
"The European media have continued to choke the lives of those suffering in Syria and have even helped to justify what is happening in our country by passing on reports without ever checking," he began, lambasting press agencies including agencies created during the war "put up by the armed opposition," like the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, that uncontradicted source for Western media.
"You have to understand that between the Islamic State and the Syrian government, our choice is quickly made. One can condemn the regime for some things, but you never tried to be objective," he further accused.
Asked whether he could explain his position to the French authorities, Archbishop Jeanbart said he had tried before, only to be told that he had to be "less critical."
For him, however, the West has continued to silence the exactions of the armed opposition, all the while damning the Syrian government and its president. "Assad has many faults, but imagine, he has also qualities," he explained, "schools were free, as hospitals, mosques as churches paid no tax, but be honest, what other government in the region does such things? Remember this, too: if we prefer to support the government, it is because we fear the establishment of a Sunni theocracy that would deprive us of the right to live on our own land."….Fort Russ
At Notre Dame de Paris, a few choice words from the Bishop of Aleppo
Charlotte D'Ornellas, Boulevard Voltaire, January 29, 2016
Translated from French by Tom Winter, February 25, 2016