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Referendum ‘window dressing’ as Syria pounds rebels

By February 28, 2012

Syria (MNN) — Syria's
new draft constitution received overwhelming approval, even as the European
Union imposed new sanctions on the country amid ongoing bloodshed.

Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar announced some 89.4% of voters
approved the draft constitution, and 57.4% of eligible voters cast ballots.
President Bashar al-Assad's regime has touted the constitutional referendum as
a move toward reform.

However, Dr. Carl Moeller, President and CEO of Open Door USA,
says, "It was designed at least to be somewhat of an appeasement for those
who are calling for Assad's ouster, but it's more or less a
window dressing." 

A strong statement, but Moeller adds, "There's violence going
on in that country that's extreme, and it's a bit crazy to be saying: 'There's a
referendum that is going to change what is taking place.'" A human rights watchdog group estimates that
about 8,500 people have been killed in the government's crackdown against the
protests that began last March. 

The trouble has been an underlying theme in the Syrian conflict. Alawites dominate the al-Assad regime,
although most Syrians (and protestors) are Sunni. This could result in a new
regime, even worse than that of the current brutality of President Assad. The potential for a bloodbath worse than 2011
exists. "The Christians have been really caught in the crossfire, and if the situation there changes fundamentally and the regime falls,
the question is: what will the Christians face in terms of revenge or hostility against the
Christian community?"

Moeller explains: "The world is right to stand up for those
that are being massacred by the government in Homs. But the fact is that we
need to look closely at the forces that oppose each other and recognize that
there's a substantial chance that once this government does fall, what will
replace it will be even more extremist Islamic."

Open Doors has been working around the clock to deliver whatever
is needed to prepare Syrian Christians for difficult years ahead. "The church needs to know that it's not
alone and that there are those of us here that are committed to whatever they
need and to getting it, even in the most difficult circumstances," says
Moeller.  

Open Doors teams have been engaged for a year now with the Christian
communities in Syria. Before that, they
were helping the refugees who fled to Syria from Iraq. As a result, 2011 saw a spike in the
distribution of Bibles and Christian materials.  

2012 presents a greater need. Moeller says, "The church basically needs encouragement right now
to let them know they're not alone, to pray with them, and  to be ready for humanitarian assistance when
we can get that in on a large scale."

Christians in dozens of countries around the world face the same
complex dilemma where they cannot count on governments to protect them. Open Doors remains committed, Moeller notes, "to doing whatever it takes to get the
resources to those believers as they'll
need them. As soon as the opportunity opens up for us to do large scale work
openly, we will do that regardless of whatever regime is in power."

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