Some more details : I was born in the city of Homs but spend the majority of my life in my father's home town of Damascus. My mother is a Palestinian Christian who came here as a refugee from Lebanon in the 1980s. I am a female. I am a university student. Ask whatever you want and please keep it civil :)
Realistically, is an end to the war in sight? What do you think the endgame looks like (for example peace talks, federation, breakup of Syria, single party victory)?
And on a less serious note, what are some of the must see places in Syria? Which food is your favourite? I would love to visit one day.
I wish peace and happiness for you and your family.
Probably a united Syria with autonomy for the kurds. So some kind of a federation.
I would suggest Palymera and Krak Castle, both are absolutely stunning places and I love Kibbeh. You are welcome at any time :) thanks for your good thoughts.
In your view, what's the biggest misconception that you feel Westerners have about the situation in Syria right now? I am sure that our media outlets don't tell us the full story, so it would be great to hear the opinions of someone who lives there. Thank you for doing this AMA!
Probably many people think life for a Christian in Syria is impossible or hatd. Like it really isn't lol, our lives are normal and we have almost perfect relations with our muslim neighbors.
What’s it like living there? A normal day for you, things you do for entertainment, etc.
Well, I am now studying so most of my day is spent in the university, I generally enjoy going to restaurants and coffee shops in the 12 AM's break with my friends but after I complete studying I go directly to home (with a few exceptions). I enjoy watching movies and TV in my past time and I might go out hanging with my friends in holidays. In summer I go to Latakia for the beach so we spend most of the season there.
Would you think it’s alright if the refugees come back to restore the country or do you think it will bring civil disruptions and anger within the community ?
( would it be a good idea to sent refugees home to build up their own country )
If yes , would it be ok if foreign countries like the eu , US etc. construct a financial aid package ? Would the Syrians not approve ?
I mean they should return (especially the people with high skills) as every hand is needed in the rebuilding process, but we can't force them to do so, it is their choice (even though I might dislike it) And any help is appreciated, but I fear foreign aid might be just a way to control our economy ans we defnietly don't need that.
Was there an option to flee as a refugee in another country? If yes why didn't you do that?
Generally refugees aren't really presetned with opportunities to flee the country, they most apply in other countries or get outside the borders with the specfic intent of applying for refugee status. We decided since the begining of the conflict that as long the war doesn't come to our door steps, we aren't moving away, so we didn't try to flee at any point in the war, but we have relatives in Lebanon we could have went to in case anything really dangerous happened.
Hi, I'm also Syrian and Palestinian. My mother is Palestinian and says that my dad's (Syrian) parents weren't super enthused about them dating or marrying because of her ethnicity. Do you find that many Arabs have stereotypical views about Arabs from other areas?
Oh yeah, defnietly, people think the Lebanese are girlish, Palestinians are beggars, Jordanians are crazy and Syrians are gay (because of our dialect). Stereotypes are pretty common between Arabs lol.
Are you Orthodox or Catholic? How are people accepting you? What are some of the difficulties you had to face because of your religion? If you find any of the questions offensive, I apologize and feel free not to answer them. Wish you all the best. :)
I am Greek Orthodox. Most people naturally accept me (we are a significant minority in the country, almost 15%, so everyone probably knows at least a few christians) and relations between us and muslims are super good. I didn't have to face any problem because of my faith, both from the governement and the people (my best friend is a Sunni)
What are your views on Assad?
Pretty complicated and mixed. On one hand he is a dictator (that's beyond dispute) and his methods in dealing with opposition are "morally questionable". But at the same time he (and his father) guaranteed peace, stability and propserity for the country for decades by this point, not to mention he promotes good relations between the different sects of the country and allows everyone positions in the governement no matter the religion or ethnicity. I defnietly support him in the war, both for the reasons already mentionned and the fact I doubt the opposition can provide all of those things ("a lesser of two evils" you may say)
Did you witness any of the bombings and shootings etc over the last few years?
In the heights of the civil war, yes, I remember I was nearby during the 18 July 2012 bombing (which nearly killed the entire government in a second)
I heard that a couple of years ago during the civil war, utilities like water and electricity were rationed, even in the cities. Was this true? Is it still the case? Has the civil war died down since?
It is less so these days and we aren't facing the same problems as back then. But the prices are still high and power cuts are common.
Do you think a united Syria is the most desirable outcome of the war, or do you think some kind of federation would have ensured more stability?
I want a united syria but I wouldn't have a problem with autonomy for the kurds as long as it isn't as extreme as in Iraq.
Are Christians discriminated against?
By the governement ? No By the general populace ? Generally no. I grew up in a very religiously mixed neighborhood and the relations between muslims and christians were very good, my bestfriend since childhood is sunni. This isn't true for all Christians but I would say that's the norm for the majority here.
What do you think of American involvement in Syria?
Not a big fan of most foreign involvements in the war including the US.
How are the armenians that are still left in Syria? Are they as safe as the rest of Syrian Christians?
Depends on where they are, Damascus doesn't have many Armenians but the ones here are safe, when it comes to Armenians in other parts of the country, some moved to Armenia but the majority stayed.
Hello. I am a Turkish dude who has no idea on foreign politics - just like our government. Can you tell me if Assad/Esad/Asad is evil or not? ( I despise Erdogan and everything he represents if you need to guess my moral compass btw)
Also I saw some photos of Syrian ppl chilling on the beach in Syria - then who are these 6 million ppl coming over here and also migrating to Europe? I have worked for UN HCR and learned that only, 20.000 young ppl got into universities in Turkey. Why is this number so low?
Just curious on your side of the story. No intention of political argument. Thanks and Goodluck with your medical career
He is an authoritarian ruler and a dictator. He guaranteed stability and prosperity to the country but at the expanse of political freedom and a highly corrupt system which drained the economy. Some would say he is fine for the good things he did, others would say he is fine but his system is so corrupt that he wasn't able to heal the problems we really suffered from, others would disagree and see him as just a neccesary evil and finally others would consider him just plain evil. I am more between "he is fine but corruption" and "lesser of two evils" camp. I salute you for calling out that monster Erdogan, I really dislike him too.
The migrants are refugees who fled the war, some regions of Syria are untouched by the war, especially the coast, others were severly damaged that life is nearly impossible there, this is especially true for the regions near the Turkish border which might be the source of the immigrants. So although Syria is in war, not all of Syria is, people in Latakia probably are safer than me and people in Aleppo are (or were) in a worse situation than me, our experiences aren't all the same.
Thanks for your good thoughts
What is your favourite food you can get in Damascus?
Kibbeh, I never get tired of eating it
Hi, I'm the grandson of Lebanese Christians, Eastern Maronite Catholics. What denomination are you?
At Uni I in part studied the Ancient east, including Syria and the wider Levant and have always wanted to visit. What is the most beautiful/ amazing site you've been to in Syria?
I am Greek Orthodox, my grandmother is Catholic too (though she is Melikite not Maronite).
Palymra was really beautiful, we went there on a school trip when I was in primary school. There is also the Krak Castle, it was super exotic for me (though I heard it was damaged a bit)
How devout are you and Syrian Christians in general?
Very devout. Not going to Sunday mass without a valid reason is like heresy.
Are the women forced to join the military?
No. Men have forced conscription but for women it is voluntary.
Lebanese here. What's your opinion on Hezbollah's involvement in Syria?
Not a fan of their religious rheotic though they are pretty tamed for an islamist group. I don't really support their intervention but ... well what can we do !
Lots of people here see it as a proxy war between Russia and the US. Would you agree that alot of the conflict is being funded by these countries that have political interest?
An aspect of it is 100% a proxy war, but it is still a fight between Syrians over the future of Syria, great powers just support the side that suits them
Is being nonreligious an option ?
Like a real viable option, not just in theory.
I can if I want, but it isn't a viable option in the society.
If you were made leader of Syria tomorrow what changes would you make?
I Try solving the peoblem of the high prices. Many Syrians are struggling because of that.
With the pullout of American troops in Syria, how will that affect Syrians, for example, would quality of life OR fear, be worse, better, or the same?
I mean the American troops were stationed in Eastern Syria (al jazirah) and I live in Western Syria (al sham) so the pullout didn't affect our lives to the most part. But from what I heard from people in the north east, the fact the pullout allowed the Turkish invaison made them fear for their life (no one wants to be part of an active war zone). I would say for them it is bad in the short term but good in the long term.
I’m genuinely surprised there’s someone who uses Reddit other than me in Syria and I can’t imagine it’d be more than like 10 people...max, I am in Aleppo tho so I guess that explains it. Do you know of anyone else in your social circle using this platform?
Other than one random guy in my university, no. You live in Aleppo now ?
What is the Christian community's general opinion towards israel?
As a general rule, the same as Muslims, we dislike it and many of us were directly effected by it too (my mother's family was ethnically cleansed from their village in 1948 by Israeli militas).
I travelled through Syria a while ago. The people were very friendly. I remember in Damascus near the Grand Bazaar there was a church, which i found a bit surprising. How are Christians generally treated in Syria prior to ISIS and how are they treated now?
Christians are almost 20% of Damascus population, churches are pretty common. We are treated well, relations between us and Muslims are pretty good both before, during and after ISIS. If you didn't live under ISIS controlled areas, their rule probably didn't effect you either.
What area did your mother come from? My great grandparents were Palestinian Christians that immigrated to the US but left plenty of family behind, and I’m a bit curious
She was born in a refugee camp in Lebanon but her family came from a village called Suhmata in Upper Galilee.
Hi, I'm Indonesian. I'm quite curious about what's going on in Syria. So here goes my question:
Anyway stay safe.
1- opinions really vary. Some think he is an Angel on earth, some think he is a lesser of two evils, others hate the shit out of him, others don't know but support or oppose him for their own personal or sectarian benefit.
2- I have a cousin in germany, my father also used to work in the US.
3- Damascus is safe, absolutely tourist friendly these days.
4- relations are pretty good between different religious groups, especially on an individual level.
5- I don't hate jews, they are a people like every other. But I don't have any positive opinions about Israel as my family was directly affected by the war.
6- some can afford, others can't, others prefer to stay here.
7- probably most people think of Indonesia as "chinese looking muslims", I have seen their photos being shared online as an example of a highly developped country, not sure if that's true but I would say that's something to be admired. In all I love you guys
و عليكم السلام
I'm of Syrian origins and I grew up in the west. I had spent enough time in Syria to have vivid memories though before we immigrated. My life in Syria was in a half Christian half Muslim neighbourhood so I have friends on both sides and I respect both without discrimination. I am a hardcore anti-Assad and anti-Baath way before the war ever started and I think the war was the result of years of hatred, explicit injustice and hidden sectarianism favoring alawites over anyone else. My family suffered under the regime before the war but they also managed to get by just like anyone else and they were well off to a certain degree. We also lost many family members during the war so you can I'm not out of touch with the reality of the people's suffering. I won't ask you questions from a foreigner eyes, but rather from a compatriote who despite the distance and having grown in different political environnements, still would love to read your answer.
1- What do you think of the "We were living كنا عايشين" narrative? Were Syrians really well off before the war? Don't you think the country was slowly but very silently heading towards a catastrophe with the rabid corruption, gap between te rich and poor and the Makhloufs (Assad cousins) swallowing 60% of the economy?
2- Do you, or your entourage, really think Assad will protect the Christians or they don't trust him but they have no choice and think he's the lesser of two evils?
3- Do people talk and understand that Syria has a political history that extends far beyond Assads ruling and that we lived in harmony and had a form of democracy before the Baathists usurped power? Do they know that Syria was a modern ans upcoming country with knowledge, culture and innovation before 1970 and that the world does not revolve around Assad who literally transformed Syria to his own barn?
Finally, I wish you all the best. I also salute your courage and resolve and I envy you for being in Syria now because I, like hundreds of thousands cannot go back ever again as long as the current regime is in power. I wish nothing but peace and prosperity and FREEDOM for my country of birth. تحياتي لك و للشام
1- I have mixed views about that narrative. A lot of the trouble that came after the war was a direct result of the war of the war itself, but I would the gap between the poor and the rich was indeed becoming larger and joblessness was on the rise (mostly a result of the reccession and drought but the higher ups defnietly didn't help either, they were always draining the economy). The idea of "the good old days" is mostly a cry back to the stability before the war, sure we were gradually becoming worse, but at least hundreds of thousans weren't dying with almost 5 milion displaced outside of the country.
2- During the early protests, we were pretty enthusaistic about the revolution, my brother even participated in many and many of my relatives and older friends did too (I was younger back then so I didn't want to involve myself in politics a lot). But the more the protests increased, the more sectarian it got, to the point where we entered the armed opposition phase, the FSA was pretty fine initially, just a group of young soldiers who rejected the authoritarian governement and wanted change. But it became more and more sectarian too. Tbh the rebels's sectarianism was always largely targeted towards Alawites, not Christians, I remember many even saying pretty good things about Christians and wanting to co-operate with us. The problem is many of us thought "what if we are next ?", sure we weren't targeted, but what if we would be targeted ? This was when Christians as a collective chose to "support" Assad (basically "lesser of two evils"), most of us recgonize the brutlaity of his regime, but we are left with no choice at this point in time.
3- I talked a lot with my family members about that, I remember Syria even had a Christian prime minister before the 1970s and he was pretty liked by the people, the government definitely promoted sectarianism while trying to prevent it. Trying for instance to over empathize how "they protect Christians" made us feel like "a protected minority" while it made others feel "we are cooperating with Assad". The same goes for Alawites too, most of them are after poor mountain farmers, but the way the government "tried preserving them" by gibing them almost all of the army officer positions made them feel like a "military caste" while it made others feel like they are just "brutal government thugs". I wish we could end these stupid conflicts, most of them don't happen on an individual level to begin with, it is more of a sub-consciousness collective idea and rarely does anyone come to terms with them, we try imagining that we are open and accepting (and we might geniuanly believe this) but are we truly ?
Thanks for your good thoughts my friend الله يحميك
btw where are you from in Syria ?
Hopefully I'm not too late to this thread. Hope you and your family are doing ok considering the situation. My family is also Christian Syrian, from Homs. I don't know how close knit the community is but do you know a family by the name of Helwani? My mother has many cousins still in Syria and has little contact with them.
Thanks for your good thoughts :)
Helwani ? I know a girl called Noura Helwani but she is Lebanese not Syrian, maybe I might know some of your relatives in face, do they live in Dummar ?
I love Homs btw, I was born there and I have a ton of good memories growing up there.
Do you have to wear a hijab or something similar to hide your hair?
Outside of the church, no, I don't have to cover my hair (that's the case for all Christians and almost half of Muslims too)
Was the rebellion a grassroots movement or was it mostly mercenaries armed by western countries from the start?
It originated as popular protests against the government and inspired by the Arab spring, it then morphed into an armed opposition armed by western countries which slowly became more and more radical (to the point it is almost completely islamist these days)
Are there any Christians in Syria that identify as ethnic Greeks/Rum? From my understanding there is a small community that even recently celebrated Oxi Day.
Generally, no. We identify pretty strongly with our Arab identity though we do share some affinity with Greeks due to our shared faith. But we don't really think of ourselves as ethnic Greeks.
Hello, thank you for your time and effort!
I your mind, is there a separation of Church and State in Syria? How do they exist?
Also, which version of the Bible do you use?
Edit: I read in another post you are Greek Orthodox.
There is a de facto seperation of church and state except when it comes to the civil code, laws concering marriage and inheritane for instance are dealt according to your religion (so each religious community has its own laws in that regard).
And I am Greek Orthodox.
One of my former coworkers is a Christian from Syria. He said the country is no where near the same and he said left before things got worse. He said he lived in an area known as “Christian valley,” which is by what he called the “safe zone.”
Do you know how safe that area currently is and is it presently in danger? I know he said he was trying to get more of his family over here, but they refuse to leave.
Oh wadi al nassara, it is the only Christian majority area in the country (the rest of the Christians are evenly spread out through the country without making a majority in any other area but just significant minorities). The area is fine today to the most part, the violence of the war is pretty far from it now.
What do you miss most about Syria?
I am still in Syria though. If you are asking about before the war, then stability was really great, we have been living in constant fear this decade.
How is it being a woman in Syria? Like how progressive is Syria in terms of gender equality? How is the night life? Are there any clubs etc.? Can you walk savely on the streets? How similiar is the syrian lifestyle to the western lifestyle? Sorry for the many questions it just really interests me :D
Normal mostly, there is inequality inside the family though, I remeber my parents punishing me for things they tolerated in my brother. A kind of a double standard. There is a great night life in the city and clubs are common (I rarely go to them). I can walk safely in the streets, I was catcalled a few times but nothing huge. In terms of the lifestyle, we adopted many western aspects in our lifestyle, but it is more on the surface (wearing western clothes, watching western movies ...) but in the core we still maintin the same mentality and ideas.
How are the Assyrians/Syriac/Chaleans doing in Syria? Do you interact with any of them, or they’re not in your area?
They mostly live in the East while I live in the West, I met some of them but didn't have a significant interaction with them anyway. They probably took the largest hit from ISIS and suffered the most, may God be with them
How bad is it living under the Assad regime?
Not bad, like life is pretty normal if you know what to not say
No, but I have blue and my mother is blonde. But red hair isn't really common.
Would you like to visit a European country (like Greece or Germany) and if yes which one?
Greece, I really wanna visit that country
What’s your thoughts on Kurdistan? And what are the thoughts of others around?
I don't mind their autonomy in Syria, but I really dislike separatism.
Is your father Christian or Muslim?
Also, do you want to continue living in Syria for the rest of your life or do you want to emigrate somewhere else--and, if so, where exactly?
My father is Christian Syrian
I would prefer living in Syria as long as my safety isn't directly affected
In North America, most Christians have never been to a place mentioned in the Bible, but you live in one! If it’s not too personal a question, do you suppose that where you live gives you a stronger connection to your faith than if you lived somewhere else?
And is your faith more of a family tradition type of thing as opposed to the highly individualized North American Protestant style?
Definitely, we are much more tied to a traditional community built upon Apostolic succession which makes Christianity not just a religious private belief but a source of collective pride.
Have you ever come to Lebanon? Did you feel that it's the same culture?
Yes I visited Lebanon a few times before the war. Almost the same culture.
I came from a Christian Syrian family from Aleppo, and I born in Venezuela and actually living in Spain. Actually none of my family members live in Syria, our family members right now are almost in every place of the world from Canada, Lebanon, Australia, Venezuela, Uruguay, USA, Germany.
My mother always wanted to go back to Syria as a tourist but when she finally had enough time to do that the war started.
Do you think that is going to be possible for her going to Aleppo soon? or is it still a very dangerous place?
I wouldn't advice going to Aleppo right now, the situation is still un stable there, she can come to other parts of Syria though. Pass my greetings to her.
Where in Damascus are you? I lived in the old city, jaramana and muhajareen in 2009 - 2010
I live in Dammur but my father's family are from the old city, how was your stay in Damascus ?
I honestly didn't think i would find an another syrian using reddit, it seems everyone around us is just obsessed with facebook and instagram, what's your major in college? And what made you interested in reddit? I also live in Damascus btw
I study in the faculty of Medicine, I got introduced to Reddit by a friend (probably the only other Syrian I know who also uses Reddit). Not to mention I really hate the way Facebook works (I only use it to talk with friends these days, it is just full of hypocrisy). May I ask where you live in Damascus ?
I can get outisde with a cross on my neck and nothing would happened. So no, I don't have to keep my religious identity hidden.
We hear horror stories of the treatment of Christian's at the hands of muslims, how much of it is true and what is your day to day like in Damascus?
Absolutely not true for me, we have very good relations. It isn't the same for everyone but that's generally the case.
Since 2011, around 400,000 to 500,000 Syrians are said to have been killed in the war (roughly 2% of the population).
Inside the USA, during that same time, there were appx. 62,000 homicides committed using firearms, and about 129,000 suicides with firearms, even though we have no civil war. Among those deaths were scores of mass shootings at schools and churches, almost none of which were considered acts of terrorism by the US government.
I’m not trying to compare the USA to Syria, but I just wanted to ask you, what do you think about that?
Also, Christians in the USA are generally opposed to laws that would restrict gun ownership in any way. As a Christian, what do you think of that?
I guess you have a higher population so you would have more gun deaths, but the idea is crazy when I think about it.
Most people probably are surprised by how common fire arms are in the US. It is pretty hard (nearly impossible) to get obtain one here (if we ignore the civil war ofc)
Which church are you a part of? There are many ancient Christian churches in Syria literally dating back to Saint Paul's conversion. I'm curious because I don't know about the different churches there.
I am Greek Orthodox. We have many churches at pretty iconic places too, there is a church built on a door used by st Paul to flee Damascus.
What's your take on Israel?
Is the Christian genocide in the middle east real?
Not a fan of Israel, my mother's family was ethnically cleansed by Israeli militas in 1948 and most of us dislike it.
When it comes to the "christian genocide", most Middle Eastern Christians live normal lives, those in conflict zones might suffer from the unstability of the region which gives rise to radical groups trying to exterminate us, most weren't directly threatned by them, but many were (especially in Northen Iraq and Eastern Syria)
شو اخبارك؟ كيف صحتك؟ طمني عنك و عن الي حوليك؟ شو عم تعمل هل إيام؟ كيف الجو بالشام؛ بلش البرد عندكن؟ كيف باقي المدن بسوريا؟ إن شاء الله كلن بخير و امان؟
الحمد لله خيي العالم الكلوا تعبان من الإقتصاد البائس بس عم نتأقلم. الشتاء طبعا بارد و بصراحة الجو مو رائع كتير خاصة هوني بدمشق
Maronite Catholic, Antiochan Orthodox, something else?
Antiochan Orthodox here with a few Catholic Melikite family members here and there. We also have Armenians and Syriac Christians here.
Show proof of who you are before starting an AMA
What do you think, are the girls good looking over there?
I am a girl, so ... I guess ?
Have you ever been to Abu George?
I have friends who go there regularly. I personally only went there twice.
Is your mother tongue Arabic, and what name does a Syrian Christian use for God?
Yes my native language is Arabic and we call God "Allah" or "Al-Rab" (which means more like the lord)
how do you feel about the US lefts stance that christians are terrible especially evangelicals and that religious tolerance doesn't apply to them ?
I am not really a fan of the pro zionist stances of Evangelicals but I think everyone deserves religious freedom.
I’ve always been told a story by parents that my great grandfather was born in Syria (I’m mid-40s now). The story was that he was young - 12 years old? - and hoped on the boat to America and came through Ellis Island, got his name changed. Supposedly he came from a well-to-do family that disowned him because he was headed here. I believe if he practiced any religion, he was probably Christian. As far as I know, we’ve never had any other religion in our family.
I know very little about genealogy, but was wondering how easy/complete something like that would be in your country.
Greetings to a diaspora Arab, relatives of my great grandfather also went to the US and we never heard from them since then so maybe we are related lol. Your story is super intresting, I wish more Syrians in the diaspora would try to reconnect with their heritage more :) btw I didn't quite understand the question.
As a fellow medicine syrian student from Latakia, hi, how are you? :]
Greetings from friend, I am fine, how is Latakia ? I was there just last summer.
Have you seen the documentary 9 days from my window in Aleppo and maybe even all the sequels to it? An old friend of mine worked together with Issa Touma to release the documentary. He's the director and editor to be precise.
If you have seen it, do you think it's a good representation as what happened the early days?
Yes I watched it, it was actually suggested to me by a friend from aleppo who said it accuratly describes the life in Aleppo in the early days of the war.
You mentioned that you are part Palestinian. Have you been to Lebanon or West Bank/Gaza before? Did you live in refugee camps in Syria or among the population?
I haven't been to Palestine, my mother's parents fled when their village was depopulated in 1948 to a refugee camp in Lebanon so my mother was born there, they later moved to Syria during the Lebanese civil war and lived in Yarmouk for a time (the Palestinian district basically). I visited Lebanon twice before the war but aside from Beqqa and Beirut I don't remeber a lot about it. I live among the population though but I used to visit Yarmouk a lot before the war.
I am interested in one day visiting old Ismaili fortresses. Do you think these areas will be safe in the coming years?
Like Masyaf ? It is Alawite majority these days I think. It is probably safe these days, though I would advice waiting for a few months3
Are you very wealthy? Just seems to be the case from your answers on here.
Far from that. We are basically middle class, not too poor and not too rich for the average pre war Syrian.
What dialect of Syriac do you speak? How vibrant of a language is it?
I don't speak Syriac, I am Arab. I think it is spoken in Maaloula and Sedayana and some parts of Eastern Syria but that's it.