scenery from Syria

Scenes from Syrian countryside and cities, because it is important to understand (at the most basic level) a bit about the  layout, the rich and diverse culture, and what is “normal”…three years of attacks aside. And there is, actually, contrary to media in my own country, support for the president here. I remain open to meeting with and hearing from Syrians (not foreign mercenaries) who disagree with the current president, flat out hate him, or anywhere in between. Until now, however, having been in Damascus, Latakia, and Homs, I’ve met supporters only, and unabashed ones at that. Please keep in mind, this in not me championing him or his government; I am reporting what Syrians have said to me. And when I hear otherwise, I’ll report that too.

Upcoming posts will include:

-the recent “rebel” car-bombings (plural) in Homs, targeting civilian areas

-interviews with the displaced from the greater Aleppo/Idlib area

-interviews with average Syrians and with participants of the peace delegation I’m on

-the words of Syria’s grand Mufti, whose son was killed by “rebels” and who yet preaches forgiveness

-a meeting with opposition members, supportive of elections and of the current president Assad

-a Palm Sunday service at the church of the Grand Patriarch, who also spoke of reconciliation and peace

-the Mussalaha (reconciliation) movement and recent successes

-information on the Peace Pilgrimage I’ve been on, the members and goals

and more, when I record it.

Being a part of this peace delegation, I’ve had the great fortune to reconnect with peace actors like Mother Agnes and Sister Carmel, based in Syria, and Mairead and Anne from Belfast, and to meet great activists like Father Dave from Australia, Vicar Andrew Ashdown, some great Iranian women and men, and many others.

I am accustomed to bombings, having spent 3 years in Gaza since late 2008. But I think many in the delegation were surprised by this morning’s shelling about 20 metres from the hotel [see here and here and the words of a Pakistani delegate on the peace pilgrimage]  I’m not. This is Syria, where a proxy-war is being waged, anything is a target.

As with Palestinians, I find in Syrians a resilience, a determination to work towards peace and stabilization, and likewise a determination to resist outside forces who would divide the country and people, tear it apart, destroy it, kill the culture, kill the people.

Actual reports to come soon, when there is time to pen them,

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