Whatever your feelings about Russia and Putin, if he helps one of the oldest Christian populations in the world, it’s a good thing.
Russia will help rebuild Christian churches in Syria and establish peace in historically Christian regions of the war-torn country, Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed on Monday during a meeting with representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church.
“Over the past few years the Russian state alongside with the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as other religious organizations, has provided humanitarian aid to Syria,” Putin told the meeting’s attendees, according to Russian state media. “It’s very important that the peaceful life is established as soon as possible, that the people can return to their homes; begin to rebuild the temples and churches.”
The biggest threat to Syria’s Christian population was the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and other radical Islamic groups, most of whom have been defeated militarily and driven out of their strongholds in recent months. But it is doubtful that Christians will return to the Syria of President Bashar al-Assad, experts note.
“The fact is that the country remains unstable and there are no institutions to help them rebuild. So it’s unlikely you’ll see a mass return, they’ll be settled where they are now. These refugees are as good as gone.”
Syria’s Christian population is one of the oldest in the world, and some Syrian Christians can still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus. But since the conflict began in 2011, the country’s Christian population shrunk from 30 percent to an estimated 10 percent of the population as many Christians were driven from their homes or forced to convert to Islam.
Aside from his support for Christians, Putin also stressed the importance of rebuilding Jewish and Muslim communities in Syria.