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10 Facts About Syria Christians From History to Everyday Life

By    |   Monday, 11 May 2015 02:01 PM

Syria is a country in the midst of a bitter civil war. Christians in Syria have long lived under a tolerant regime and prospered in their daily lives. Though known as a Muslim country, Christians in Syria can trace their roots on the land back to Biblical times.

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Here are 10 facts on Christians in Syria:

1. The Christian community in Syria is one of the oldest in the world, stretching back nearly 2,000 years in history.

2. The population of Christians has been in decline over the last 100 years, and stands at just over 1 million today. In the 1920s it formed nearly 30 percent of the country’s people, while today it is around 10 percent.

3. The majority of Christians in Syria belong to the Eastern faiths such as the Greek Orthodox Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Syrian Orthodox Church, and the Assyrian Church of the East.

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4. The Catholicism is the other denomination popular with Christians in Syria. Catholics in Syria belong to the Melkite Greek Church, the Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch, the Armenian Catholic Church, the Syrian Catholic Church and the Chaldean Catholic Church.

5. The Baath Party has ruled Syria since the 1960s and was founded by a Christian, Michel Aflaq. A Greek Orthodox, he was raised in Damascus, and died in Paris in 1989.

6. There are many ancient sites in Syria sacred to Christians. Among these is the city of Damascus, the village of Maalula, where residents still speak Aramaic, and the Church of St. Simeon outside of Aleppo.

7. Traditionally, Christians in Syria are guaranteed freedom of worship and have taken high positions in government, politics, and the security forces.

8. Since the beginning of the country's civil war, Christians in Syria have come under increasing threat, especially from ISIS. There are thought to be nearly 700,000 Christian refuges displaced by the fighting and Syria has risen to No. 4 on the World Watch Rank for persecution of Christians, according to Open Doors UK, an organization that monitors persecution of Christians worldwide.

9. St. Paul established the first Christian at Antioch, which was then part of Syria. Christians ruled Syria from the time of St. Paul until the seventh century, when Muslim invaders conquered the country.

10. The Ottoman Empire ruled Syria from the 15th century until 1915. They relegated Christians to second-class citizens. Christians had to pay a special tax to allow them to practice their religion freely, and there were restrictions on interactions with Muslims.

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