The statements made by the Russian Orthodox Church describing the war being fought by the Russian army in Syria and its role in protecting the Christians in the region as a “holy war” has sparked a wave of angry Arab responses and statements on social networking sites. Such statements have reached the point of declaring a jihad in response to the Russian statement.
Others have predicted the nearness of the Dabiq battle (the Apocalypse), which indicates the end of time.
Church’s blessing for war
The Russian Orthodox Church’s public affairs department quoted the Church’s Patriarch Kirill blessing the Russian forces’ fight in Syria, saying: “Russia took a responsible decision to use military forces to protect the Syrian people from the woes brought on by the tyranny of terrorists,” adding that the “Orthodox people have noticed many acts of violence against Christians in the area.”
Russia Today quoted the head of the Church’s Public Affairs Department, Vsevolod Chaplin, saying: “The active position of our country has always been connected with protection of the weak and oppressed, like the Middle East Christians who are now experiencing a real genocide. Any fight against terrorism is moral; we can even call it a holy fight.”
Annihilation of Syrian Muslims
On his part, Syrian journalist Faisal Al-Qassem criticised the military operations carried out of the Russian Air Force in Syria, accusing them of “annihilating Syrian Muslims” referring to the Russian Orthodox Church’s description of this as “a holy war”.
In his post on Facebook, Al-Qassem said: “A few days ago, the Russian president opened the largest mosque in Moscow, then he sent his planes to Syrian to annihilate the Syrian Muslims under the pretext of the Russian church leaders describing this as a holy war.”
Calls for jihad
Activist, Khaled Hamdi, tweeted: “The Russians are burning our Syria, the Jews are desecrating our Jerusalem, the Majoos (fire worshippers) are emptying our Iraq of Sunni Muslims, and our leaders are killing our free youth.”
“Our world is on the verge of exploding in anger and jihad. The toughest fighters are those who have nothing to lose, and our youth are so.”
He added: “Jerusalem is besieged, blood is being shed in Egypt, Syria and Iraq, justice in our countries is a thing of the past, and our youth are longing for jihad. Beware to the secular Russians from our Muslim youth who long to fight them and beware of the Zionists from the jihad that is coming; a jihad that their allies prevented us from carrying out. It seems that Syria will be the meeting point and from there we will return to Jerusalem.”
Saudi academic, Mohammed Al-Hadeef, described Western intervention in Syria as “a religious war” declared against the Sunni Muslims in order to make them a minority in their countries.
In a tweet on his Twitter account, Al Hadeef said “Orthodox Russians, Persians (unspecified religion), Catholic and Protestant Westerners, and Israeli Jews are fighting Sunni Muslims. If this isn’t a “religious war”, then what is?”
Al-Hadeef also said that the West now view the Sunnis in Syria as a minority that must be integrated despite the fact that they are the people of the country.
On his part, Syrian opposition member, Bassam Jaara said: “The Orthodox Church’s call for a holy war in Syria warrants a declaration of jihad. The Orthodox Church described Putin’s battle in Syria as ‘holy’, meaning a crusade war… A ‘holy’ war requires a call for jihad.”