Back in August, Dalel Khalil wrote a very moving piece titled "Mourning for Syria" (Aug. 12 Forum). Given the recently pronounced policy/position from the Obama administration regarding Syria, I must join her in mourning. As a student of history and especially Middle Eastern history, I am surprised by the failure of the media and, more so, the failure of our State Department to address the issue of religious minorities. I have not seen a single article or heard any commentary raising the issue of religious tolerance should "Islamist democracies" become realities in Egypt and Syria.
What does the future hold for the Christian minorities in those countries? I recently had a discussion with a friend who is a displaced Palestinian with extended family in Jordan, Lebanon and in Gaza. He is a Christian Arab who recently returned from visiting his family. He and his family are members of the Antiochian Orthodox Church. He claimed that the Christian minorities have remained silent since they are in very precarious positions.
With Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, the Coptic Orthodox Christian Church had a history with that regime and understood where they stood. The same goes for the several Christian minorities that had learned from experience what to expect from the Assads in Syria. Nobody can pretend to know just how these Islamist regimes will treat the Christian and other religious minorities. Perhaps current events and history can give us some general idea, which, in my opinion, does not bode well.
Nothing can justify the brutality of Hosni Mubarak or the Assads, but who knows how bad it may get under new regimes. I pray that the Obama administration makes the right decisions as it deals with these issues and factors in the fragile future of these Christian minorities.
RICHARD A. MELLICK
Upper St. Clair