Russian Orthodox Church backs ‘holy war’ in Syria

Earlier this month, in an official statement reported by Al-Arabiya (and many more), the Church’s Patriarch Kirill said “Russia took a responsible decision to use military forces to protect the Syrian people from the woes brought on by the tyranny of terrorists.” 

The Patriarch cited the suffering of Christians in the region, the kidnapping of clerics and the destruction of churches, adding that Muslims “are suffering no less.” 

A senior Muslim cleric also backed the military intervention, saying Syrians are “practically our neighbours.” “We fully back the use of a contingent of Russian armed forces in the battle against international terrorism,” said Talgat Tadzhuddin, head of the Central Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Russia, in comments to RIA Novosti state news agency. 

A council representing Russia’s main religions — Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism — will release a joint statement on Russia’s role in Syria that will “support the decision that was taken by our government,” said Orthodox spokesman Chaplin.   More 

These statements have been cited by various bloggers – Raymond Ibrahim on Frontpage Mag contrasts Putin’s support for persecuted Christians with Obama’s siding with “Christian-murdering ‘freedom fighters'”.  More  

David Hearst on Huffington Post offers a detailed analysis of Russian Middle East policy, arguing that “The fact that Russia is making the same mistake as Bush and Blair did, 14 years later – down to using the same words – is proof of how dangerous it is to frame the fight in a Muslim country in religious terms.”  More