Metatron from the Greek after and throne taken together as "one who serves behind the throne" or "one who occupies the throne next to the throne of glory" and yes it is a real word.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Syria Christian 'made to convert at gunpoint' by Muslim jihadists

Syria Christian 'made to convert at gunpoint'

The only people helping the Christians in Syria is the Syrian Government, er .......... these are the ones we want to bomb? Christians are now taking up arms to defend against Islamic extremists which are attacking them, this means they support the Syrian government so are we now going to bomb and kill Christians to help Muslim jihadists ?

What has the world come to when it is the Russians and the Chinese helping protect Christians in Syria by supporting a government that keeps Christians safe from Muslims 

The funeral in Damascus on September 10, 2013, of three Christians killed in Maalula at the weekend
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Jihadists who overran Syria's ancient town of Maalula last week disparaged Christians as "Crusaders" and forced at least one person to convert to Islam at gunpoint, say residents who fled the town.
Many of Maalula's people left after a first rebel assault knocked out an army checkpoint at the entrance to the strategic town on September 4. Some went to a nearby village and others to Damascus, about 55 kilometres (34 miles) to the south.
One of them, Marie, was still frightened as she spoke of that day.
"They arrived in our town at dawn... and shouted 'We are from the Al-Nusra Front and have come to make lives miserable for the Crusaders," an Islamist term for Christians, Marie said in Damascus, where she and hundreds of others attended the burial Tuesday of three Christian pro-regime militiamen killed in the fighting.
Maalula is one of the most renowned Christian towns in Syria, and many of its inhabitants speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus.
Home to around 5,000 people, it is strategically important for rebels, who are trying to tighten their grip around the capital.
It could also be used as a launching point for attacks on the highway between the capital and Homs, a key regime supply route.
The rebels have been in and out of the town since the first assault as they battle with government troops and militia.
On Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and residents said rebels, including jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda, had overrun Maalula.
But on Tuesday night, the Free Syrian Army said rebels would withdraw to spare the town's people and heritage, on the condition that the regime kept its forces out as well.
However, they were still in the town on Wednesday, a Syrian security source said.
"The army has not yet retaken Maalula. The battles are raging on, but (the army) is making progress," the source said on condition of anonymity.
Some rebel groups have accused the army of having deliberately pulled out of the town in the fighting, leaving it open to jihadist capture, as a propaganda ploy to gain sympathy for the Christians there.
A nun from the Mar Takla Greek Orthodox convent in Maalula told AFP by telephone that "there were fierce battles (on Tuesday) but the town was not shelled. We and the orphans we take care of are doing well, but we lack fuel."
Recalling the events of last week, 62-year-old Adnan Nasrallah said an explosion destroyed an archway just across from his house that leads into the town.
"I saw people wearing Al-Nusra headbands who started shooting at crosses," said Nasrallah, a Christian.
One of them "put a pistol to the head of my neighbour and forced him to convert to Islam by obliging him to repeat 'there is no God but God'."
"Afterwards they joked, 'he's one of ours now'."
Nasrallah spent 42 years running a restaurant -- which he named Maalula -- in the US state of Washington and returned to Syria just before the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad broke out in March 2011.
"I had a great dream. I came back to my country to promote tourism. I built a guesthouse and spent $2,000 installing a windmill to provide electricity in the town.
"My dream has gone up in smoke. Forty-two years of work for nothing," he lamented.
But worse, for him, was what he said was the reaction of his Muslim neighbours when the town was seized by the rebels.
"Women came out on their balconies shouting with joy, and children... did the same. I discovered that our friendship was superficial."
But Nasrallah's sister, Antoinette, refused to condemn everyone, saying recent arrivals in the town were to blame.
"There are refugees from Harasta and Douma (in the suburbs of Damascus) that we have taken in, and they are spreading the poison of hatred, especially among the younger generation," she said.
Another resident, Rasha, recounted how the jihadists had seized her fiance Atef, who belonged to the town's militia, and brutally murdered him.
"I rang his mobile phone and one of them answered," she said.
"Good morning, Rashrush," a voice answered, using her nickname. "We are from the Free Syrian Army. Do you know your fiance was a member of the shabiha (pro-regime militia) who was carrying weapons, and we have slit his throat."
The man told her Atef had been given the option of converting to Islam, but had refused.
"Jesus didn't come to save him," he taunted.


Battle for Syria Christian town of Maaloula continues

A BBC correspondent in Syria has said the battle for an ancient Christian town is continuing, despite reports that government forces had retaken it.
Jeremy Bowen said that a heavy gunfight with rebels was continuing in Maaloula, with smoke rising into the sky.
He added that he had not seen evidence confirming religious sites had been damaged by al-Qaeda-linked jihadists.
Fighting over the town, 55km (34 miles) north of Damascus, began last week after rebels attacked a checkpoint.

At the scene

Government forces are in Maaloula, but there is still fighting going on. I've heard a lot of heavy fire and one or two large explosions as well. Their opponents from the al-Nusra Front - the armed rebel group that is allied with al-Qaeda - appear to still be in the town. I've seen about half a dozen wounded government soldiers driven back at speed towards their rear echelon.
I've spoken to some local members of the National Defence Forces, a pro-government militia. They say they are fighting for their town and the fact it was a place where Christians and Muslims once lived side by side. They say they are fighting against the people they regard as terrorists.
The town's residents fled in a hurry to Damascus when the rebels first moved in. They are very upset and angry about what happened. Some told me that when they left, the al-Nusra Front desecrated some of their churches. There is quite a bit of damage to the town, but I can't see considerable damage to the holy places. In fact, I can see a big statue of the Virgin Mary that is very much intact.
Free Syrian Army (FSA) units and members of the jihadist al-Nusra Front occupied Maaloula for several hours on Thursday before withdrawing when their positions were bombed by government warplanes.
Then on Sunday, activists said government soldiers and pro-government militiamen had been forced to pull back to the outskirts following a fresh rebel assault.
Since then, most of the town's 3,300 residents have fled to safer parts of the country including Damascus, where some told the BBC that three people had been killed and six kidnapped.
They said al-Nusra fighters had desecrated churches and statues.
However, our correspondent in Maaloula has seen statues in churches which were left undamaged.
Withdrawal offer
Maaloula has several churches and important monasteries, including Deir Mar Takla, which is visited by many Christians and Muslim pilgrims.
Inscriptions found in some of the caves in the mountainside on which the town sits confirm it as one of the earliest centres of Christianity in the world, and some residents can still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ.
The rebels declared on Tuesday that they would withdraw from Maaloula provided that pro-government forces did not take their place.
Jeremy Bowen's report on the families who fled Maaloula for Damascus
"To ensure no blood is spilt and that the properties of the people of Maaloula are kept safe, the Free Syrian Army announces that the town of Maaloula will be kept out of the struggle between the FSA and the regime army," a spokesman said in an online video.
But heavy fighting was continuing on Wednesday afternoon when our correspondent arrived in Maaloula.
He said both government soldiers and local members of the National Defence Forces, a pro-government militia, were still exchanging fire with al-Nusra fighters inside the town. He also saw half a dozen government casualties being taken away for treatment.
The fighting in Maaloula has highlighted the delicate position of Syria's Christian minority.

Maaloula (7 September 2013)Maaloula is one of the earliest centres of Christianity in the world.
When the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad erupted in March 2011, many Christians were cautious and tried to avoid taking sides.
However, as the crackdown by security forces intensified and opposition supporters took up arms, they were gradually drawn into the conflict.
Many fear that if the secular government is overthrown, they will be targeted by Sunni jihadist rebels calling for the establishment of an Islamic state and that Christian communities will be destroyed, as many were in Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003.

More on This Story

Status of Christians in Syria

Saint Elias Maronite church in Aleppo
Damascus was one of the first regions to receive Christianity during the ministry of St Peter. There were more Christians in Damascus than anywhere else. After the military expansion of the Umayyad empire into Syria and Anatolia, the teachings of Islam came into practice and many became Muslims.
Nowadays, Damascus still contains a sizeable proportion of Christians, with churches all over the city, but particularly in the district of Bab Touma (The Gate of Thomas in Aramaic). Masses are held every Sunday and civil servants are given Sunday mornings off to allow them to attend church, even though Sunday is a working day in Syria. Schools in Christian-dominated districts have Saturday and Sunday as the weekend, while the official Syrian weekend falls on Friday and Saturday.
In May 2011, International Christian Concern indicated that Christians in Syria were more afraid of the anti-government protesters than of the government itself, because under the Syrian Assad government there has been tolerance towards religious minorities.


Christians (as well as the few remaining Jews in the country) engage in every aspect of Syrian life. Following in the traditions of Paul, who practiced his preaching and ministry in the marketplace, Syrian Christians are participants in the economy, the academic, scientific, engineering, arts, and intellectual life, the entertainment scene, and the political arena of Syria. Many Syrian Christians are public sector and private sector managers and directors, while some are local administrators, members of Parliament, and ministers in the government. A number of Syrian Christians are also officers in the armed forces of Syria. They have preferred to mix in with Muslims rather than form all-Christian units and brigades, and fought alongside their Muslim compatriots against Israeli forces in the various Arab-Israeli conflicts of the 20th century. In addition to their daily work, Syrian Christians also participate in volunteer activities in the less developed areas of Syria. As a result, Syrian Christians are generally viewed by other Syrians as an asset to the larger community.

The old Christian quarter of Jdeydeh,Aleppo


Syrian Christians have their own courts that deal with civil cases like marriage, divorce and inheritance based on Bible teachings. By agreement with other communities, Syrian Christian churches do not proselytise to Muslims and do not acceptconverts from Islam. Noteworthy Syrian Christians include the chronicler Paul of Aleppo, the chess player Philip Stamma, and the Syrian Armenian musician George Tutunjian.

Syrian rebels used Sarin nerve gas, not Assad’s regime: U.N. official

Testimony from victims strongly suggests it was the rebels, not the Syrian government, that used Sarin nerve gas during a recent incident in the revolution-wracked nation, a senior U.N. diplomat said Monday.
Carla del Ponte, a member of the U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, told Swiss TV there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof,” that rebels seeking to oust Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad had used the nerve agent.

But she said her panel had not yet seen any evidence of Syrian government forces using chemical weapons, according to the BBC, but she added that more investigation was needed.
Damascus has recently facing growing Western accusations that its forces used such weapons, which President Obama has described as crossing a red line. But Ms. del Ponte’s remarks may serve to shift the focus of international concern.
Ms. del Ponte, who in 1999 was appointed to head the U.N. war crimes tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, has sometimes been a controversial figure. She was removed from her Rwanda post by the U.N. Security Council in 2003, but she continued as the chief prosecutor for the Yugoslav tribunal until 2008.
Ms. del Ponte, a former Swiss prosecutor and attorney general, told Swiss TV: “Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals. According to their report of last week, which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated.”
She gave no further details, the BBC said.
The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria was established in August 2011 to examine alleged violations of human rights in the Syrian conflict which started in March that year.

It is due to issue its next report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in June.
Rebel Free Syrian Army spokesman Louay Almokdad denied that rebels had use chemical weapons.
“In any case, we don’t have the mechanism to launch these kinds of weapons, which would need missiles that can carry chemical warheads, and we in the FSA do not possess these kind of capabilities,” Mr. Almokdad told CNN.
“More importantly, we do not aspire to have (chemical weapons) because we view our battle with the regime as a battle for the establishment of a free democratic state. … We want to build a free democratic state that recognizes and abides by all international accords and agreements — and chemical and biological warfare is something forbidden legally and internationally.”

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