(Photo: Reuters/Zain Karam)
Wadie el-Khazen, chairman of the Maronite General Council, condemned the assault on Christians in Maloula located on the outskirts of Damascus on Thursday.
"What happened in Syria's Maloula at the hands of Islamic extremists is a brutal targeting to the most important Christian stronghold in Syria and the Middle East. This area has retained its Aramaic heritage since Christ spoke Aramaic," Khazen said.
"Is it the fate of Christians in the Middle to be always the firewood of violence? This violence has long been condemned in all its forms by Pope Francis I, who called for the adoption of peaceful solutions to crises and conflicts?" Khazen explained.
In a press statement, Khazen added that "what happened in Maloula is a part of this multi-layered infernal scheme which targets minorities in the Middle East, especially Christians."
"This extremism that tampers with the security of coexistence in Syria is a risk to all countries that include Christian and non-Christian minorities. Moreover, this extremism disseminates theocratic despotism, leaving no place for any group in governance and political participation," he added.
Khazen added, "We have seen a sample of the most dangerous form of threat to the principle of coexistence that prevailed in our communities for decades. In all of these decades, we have not known such brutal attacks on small groups without reason. Egypt, under the Muslim Brotherhood, witnessed collective burning and destruction of more than 60 churches for the first time [in its history]."