Genocide in Syria?

By February 15, 2012

Syria (MNN) — The U.N. human rights chief Monday urged that Syria's dictator Bashar al-Assad be referred to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, according to NBC news.

Dozens of nations have called for Assad to end violence or to step down. As violence continues to rattle Syria, it's becoming clearer and clearer that a transition away from Assad's regime will need to be made one, way or another.

"We can't see the future to know how this transition is going to take place–although it does seem inevitable that there will be some sort of transition at some point," agrees Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs.

But what will such a transition mean for Christians? Throughout the rebellion in Syria, Mission Network News has reported repeatedly on the relative peace Christians have experienced. As violence has been redirected to others, Christians have not been so hunted. Most cannot support Assad's regime but are fearful of what will happen when he falls, says Tom Doyle with E3 Partners.

"What our contacts in Syria are saying is that they are concerned about a potential of a backlash against the church and against Christians, in particular, if an Islamic-leaning group becomes the head of the country," explains Nettleton. "They worry what that will mean for religious freedom."

Catholic bishops have gone as far as to suggest that an all-out genocide could easily take place, reports the New American.

Why the backlash against Christians? "They are seen by the masses as having been aligned with Assad, maybe even protected by Assad," Nettleton explains. "So, anger at the Assad regime becomes anger at Christians."

Nettleton says the word "genocide" may be too strong for what may take place. He says the response toward Syrian Christians depends largely on the outcome of the Assad regime. If it's a violent end where extremists take over, says Nettleton, it doesn't bode well for Christians. If it's a more peaceful transition, Christians may stand a chance at relative freedom.

With so much of the future unknown, Christians are going about their lives responding to God's call. The Syrian church has breached denominational lines in unity throughout this conflict, says Nettleton, which has helped sustain the nation's massive hunger for the Gospel.

"One of the statements that our contact made was, ‘Hey, you can start a house church in a day if you just go out and start talking to people and presenting the Gospel.' There's so much openness to the Gospel message right now."

Pray for hearts to remain open no matter what lies ahead.

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