Syria: Rome Melkite Greek basilica hosts photo show on war

St Mary in Cosmedin showcases pictures to remember 4-yr conflict

06 February, 14:51

    Krak des Chevaliers Krak des Chevaliers

    (by Cristiana Missori) (ANSAmed) - ROME, FEBRUARY 6 - While the West is wondering how to stop the barbaric violence carried out by ISIS, Syria continues to die. Children, women and men are dying and, with them, 14 centuries of cohabitation between Muslims and Christians and a huge cultural heritage slowly crumbling under the eyes of the international community.

    And as of last night, Rome will be hosting a small photo exhibit - promoted by the Syrian community in Italy in cooperation with the European volunteering association Sol.Id - hosted in a room next to the Melkite Greek Basilica Saint Mary in Cosmedin in Rome. Its objective is to keep the attention high on the awful devastation suffered by the archaeological and artistic heritage of Syria during four years of civil war.

    The photos on display are 40, sent by the Syrian tourism ministry. They show a before and after scenario in places like the old city of Damascus, Palmira, the old suk and evangelical church of Aleppo; the ancient mosque of Khalid ibn Al Waleed and St. Mary Church of the Holy Belt in Homs; the mosque of Al Omari in the southern city of Bosra and Krak des Chevaliers.

    Promoters recalled that 300 archaeological sites have been damaged across the country, including 24 that have been totally destroyed - official numbers that don't take into account many other locations on which there is no information at the moment.

    Also, dozens of artworks have been stolen by terrorists to fund their activities. Some have been retrieved and restored, as shown by a few pictures.

    ''A theft that is committed against all of humanity'', said Mons. Hilarion Capucci, archbishop of Jerusalem, opening the meeting on ''Freedom or terrorism''. The country was ''once a bridge between the West and the Arab world, a place of cohabitation for religions, turned from paradise to a real hell'', said the elderly priest.

    ''The real treasure that needs to be saved is the Syrian population'' stressed for his part Mtanious Haddad, Melkite Greek Catholic archimandrite. ''We want that country back, a country in which Muslims and Christians live together. A cohabitation that lasted 14 centuries, a model of inter-religious dialogue and ecumenism that needs to be saved''.

    The photos, he continued, ''show that there is no difference for terrorists: churches, like mosques, are regularly destroyed, without distinction. Those striking and destroying are without religion''. And the key to get out of this situation is political - ''simple'', he claimed. ''Closing the borders of Turkey, shutting down the doors of Qatar's fundss and the inflow of money from Saudi Arabia - this is the only way to save Syria and only then will we be able to re-build the country''.

    Iraq's ambassador the Holy See, Habeeb Al Sadr, and Hasan Ramdan of the High commission of Islamist scientists in Syria, echoed his words, saying that the West needs to intervene more forcefully and support Syria and Iraq in the fight on terror or it risks finding terrorists on its doorstep. ISIS, they said, ''is your product''.

    The photos will remain on display until Sunday, February 15 when Mons Capucci will celebrate a mass for peace in Syria.


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