A columnist for Al-Monitor who writes under the pseudonym Edward Dark visited Siryan Adeemeh, or Old Siryan, an elevated area in the regime-controlled west of Aleppo, the largest city in Syria. Dark wanted to “gauge the sentiment” of this area, which he describes as a working-class neighborhood home to Christian Arabs of several denominations and also inhabited by a sizable Muslim and Kurdish population. “It’s one of the few areas of Aleppo where churches outnumber mosques, and communal relations had always been jovial and friendly, as could be seen while strolling its maze-like narrow streets, lined with markets, cafes, sandwich shops, bars and liquor stores,” Dark, a resident of Aleppo, recalls.
He interviews Abu Fadi, “a middle-aged man, tanned with silver hair and sharp dark eyes — a striking appearance to match his striking personality. He was the de facto mayor of his neighborhood, the go-to guy for news, stories and gossip, a figure much liked and respected by his Christian community and beyond.”
I asked him how he felt about the warring camps in Syria, whom he supports and why. He answered, “There is no question at all about whom we support: the government, of course. It is the only force protecting us from the jihadists and extremists.”
“Why do you feel this way? Aren’t there armed groups and an opposition that are not extremists and represent other Syrians and their legitimate interests, too?” Al-Monitor asked.
“No, not anymore,” he said. “You see, at the beginning, some welcomed the protests because they felt it might get the government to fix the problems, you know, like the corruption and other important issues and reforms, like an alarm bell to wake them up. But we soon saw this is not what it was about. They just wanted to take power at any cost; they will destroy Syria to do that. They soon showed their true faces, the religious extremism they were hiding. Anyone who took up arms against the state is wrong.”
By government, Abu Fadi refers to the regime of Bashar Hafez al-Assad, the president of Syria since 2000.
Read “Aleppo’s Christians see regime as last hope” by Edward Dark at Al-Monitor.