Freedom Christmas

02 April 2014

For decades, the Assad regime has used the issue of minorities in order to maintain its own legitimacy, by assuring Christians and other religious groups that its ruling is the sole deterrent against sectarian strife, and the only firm guarantee for religious and ethnic diversity in the country. As a response to this strategy, Syrians have taken every opportunity to unsubstantiate such claims, by highlighting the unity of the Syrian people in the uprising.

In December 2011, the Syriac Assyrian Youth coordination committee, and the Assyrian Network for Human Rights in Syria, launched a campaign coinciding with Christmas, to link the nativity of Jesus Christ with the birth of freedom in Syria, and to emphasize once again that the uprising is for all Syrians.

The campaign's organizers prompted Syrians to set up Christmas trees, decorated with names of martyrs and detainees, to honor and be reminiscent of their sacrifices. Syrians living in Syria and abroad took part in the initiative, uploading photos and videos showing their celebration of Christmas, from the northern town of Saraqib to Damascus and its outskirts.

The campaign also included highlighting verses and references from the Bible or quotations by Christian clerics, by posting them on cars, doors and walls of Syrian neighborhoods. in the neighborhood of Baramke, Damascus, a message on a car reads: "Jesus gave us freedom so that we hold on to it. So stay free, and untie yourself from oppression and slavery". Another sticker, in the words of Italian Father Paolo "Don't fear each other. Fear for each other".

Santa with the Syrian Christmas tree, decorated with the names of Syrian cities. Source: Campaign's Facebook page.
Santa with the Syrian Christmas tree, decorated with the names of Syrian cities. Source: Campaign's Facebook page.

To help spread the campaign, a video was launched featuring several members of the Syrian opposition from diverse religious groups and communities: Rima Flehan, Amr Idlbi, Abdel Ahad Asdifo, Samir Nashar, Walid Albanni, Ahmad Ramadan, Radwan Ziada, among others.

In the video, the renowned political figures wished Christians a Merry Christmas, filled with the spirit of brotherhood, love and tolerance, and called on Syrians to stay united in the face of sectarianism and division, which the Syrian regime has tried to ignite for decades.


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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad