A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Who Kidnapped the Syrian Bishops (and Who Freed Them)?

[UPDATE: There are now some denials that the bishops have been released.]

Bishop Ibrahim (left) and Bishop Yazigi
Two Syrian bishops from Aleppo, kidnapped yesterday by unknown forces in northern Syria, have been released today. 

The two, Greek (Antiochian) Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo Boulos Yazigi (Yaziji), and his Syriac Orthodox counterpart, Yohanna Ibtahim, were kidnapped while returning from Turkey to Aleppo on Monday reportedly in the village of Kafr Dael. The Syrian government, through its SANA news agency,  blamed rebels (and some Lebanese reports echoed that), but the Syrian National Coalition and other rebel groups rejected this and called for their immediate release. The new head of the SNC, George Sabra, just elected tor replace Moaz al-Khatib (who resigned), called for the release; Sabra, a leftist and secularist, is himself of Christian (Greek Orthodox) background (also a former Communist), and one of the relatively few Christians supporting the rebels.

A friend of Metropolitan Yazigi, quoted in the Guardian, has suggested that Yazigi has expressed some criticism of the Asad regime and implied that the regime might be behind it.

One point I haven't seen mentioned in most of the Western reporting on this: Bishop Yasigi is the younger brother of the Antiochian Orthodox Patriarch,  John X Yazigi, who was elected late last year.

1 comment:

David Mack said...

Syrian Christians are in a real bind. They have enjoyed relative security and considerable prosperity for half a century of secular rule. Hard to blame them for supporting the regime, especially after what happened in Iraq and, now, in Egypt. A Syrian-American cornered me after the recent MEI program on Syria and told me how much he feared the rebels.