EU, US put pressure on Syrian government crackdown

By May 24, 2011

Syria (MNN) — The European Union put their foot down yesterday to stomp out the violent actions of the Syrian government.

At least 60 more lives were stolen over the weekend during demonstrations in Syria, according to Amnesty International. The deaths add to what human rights activists estimate to be over 850 total lives taken.

The EU has imposed personal asset freezes as well as travel bans on President al-Assad and nine other government figures, reports say. The names of the nine officials on the list will be announced some time today.

Amnesty International's Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Malcolm Smart, reportedly fears that such measures are too little too late.

American president Barack Obama has also stepped in, however, to condemn the actions of the Syrian government and call for an end to government attacks on its own people.

"President Assad now has a choice. He can lead that transition or get out of the way. The Syrian government must stop shooting demonstrators and allow peaceful protests," Obama said in a speech last week.

The Syrian government continues to defend their actions by claiming to be fighting "armed terrorist gangs" rather than civilians, the BBC News reports.

In the meantime, Syria's Christians remain on edge.

"This current situation in Syria is very uncertain for Christians in the country," confirms Jerry Dykstra with Open Doors, USA.

Believers have traditionally enjoyed relative freedom to worship in Syria, says Dykstra, but pastors think things could quickly get worse for them.

"They're really thinking that what might happen is what's happening in Egypt right now," says Dykstra. If things don't get better, "They're thinking that the Muslim Brotherhood…might bring the same kind of persecution and terrorist movement to Syria."

Open Doors is assisting believers, but for security reasons, they cannot explain how or where. Dykstra says the biggest request from Syrian pastors is for prayer.

Pastors ask the following: "Pray for our government, and our police and our army, that they can maintain the peace. If they can't maintain the peace, there will be all kinds of different factions, and Christians are usually the first ones to be in the cross-hairs when there's a lot of uprising and the military or the government can't maintain control."

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