It was Palm Sunday 2010 in the Christian quarter of Homs – Syria where thousands of inhabitants of Homs old city gathered in the area square to celebrate the Holy event.
People have marched from their house and churches toward the square. Parents were carrying their infants; Children, youth & young adults were wearing nice clothes, holding in their hands olive branches & candles and all were singing “Hosanna in the highest”.
A year after, on Palm Sunday 2011, a different march with different people with different slogans took place in Homs.
Thousands of Moslem men marched toward the city square passing by Christian Quarter of the old city of Homs.
That day, Christians celebrated that Palm Sunday fearfully. They stayed either at home or inside their churches. That same night, sounds of fighting, shooting and screaming “Allah Akbar” filled the city of Homs announcing beginning of new era. Since then, Homs was never the same as before.
What supposed to be peaceful demonstrations, turned up to be a fake cover of hidden violent actions! Slogans of freedom, democracy & human rights were rapidly substituted with phrases of hatred, cursing and enmity accompanied with actions of violence, offence & attacks.
From the Palm Sunday on; violence, shooting & fighting happened every day in Homs. People from different sides or no side were shot & killed.
Opposition fighters continued their violent actions against the police & some civilians believing that aggression, assassinations and crimes in Homs – including the Christian quarter – would lead to the collapse of the ruling regime in Damascus 165 km south!!
Days, weeks & months passed on while victims & destruction continued increasing & expanding.
In 2012, Homs old city could not have Palm Sunday of any kind. Rebels had occupied the old city of Homs including the Christian quarter evacuating the area of its Inhabitants.
Sunday February 26th, 2012 a major displacement of more than 60000 civilians of Christian majority happened in Homs.
People left their homes and could not come back again till today.
As consequence of the rebels’ invasion, civilians were killed, houses were stolen, and churches were destroyed. Violence has only led to more violence, more victims & more destruction.
Armed opposition fighters led the primitive movement of reform, freedom & human rights into a hell.
Arming the opposition fighters to fight the ruling regime has ended up supporting radical Islamism & terrorism.
Christians of Homs & I am one of them still hope to celebrate Palm Sunday in 2015 in Homs old city.
We still hope to see people back to their homes, churches & areas. We hope to see them marching in joy carrying the olive branches and singing Hosanna in the highest.
To hear that chant again from a Homs city located 400 miles north of Jerusalem where Lord Jesus once marched toward the city of Peace; to hear that chant from Homs city located 100 miles north of Damascus where Paul had walked in the straight street; to hear that chant again, you need to take an action.
I invite you all today to send a message of peace to 1 or 2 influential friends. Please tell them that violence will only lead to violence. Arming fighters has only led to more tragedy.
Peace be with you and through you