Christians in Syria: A Precious Minority

Syria, an important crossroads for at least five millennia, is a country in possession of a very complex ethnic and religious character. 

Despite the widespread and well-characterized Arab-Muslim society, Syria is also very important for the history of Christianity. It’s from here that the Apostles began to evangelize Europe, firstly with Saint Paul, and some of the most important monasteries such as St. George, St. Thecla, the convent of our Lady of Saidnaya and the Church of St.Hanania in Damascus are located in Syria.

Out of 20 million inhabitants, Christians in Syria (mainly Greek Orthodox, Maronites, Syrian Orthodox, Melkites, Latin Catholics, etc…), while representing  almost 30% of the population until 1967, today make up only about 8-9% of the total number of inhabitants.

With the exception of a small minority that has still preserved the Aramaic language, the language of Christ, the Christian majority speaks Arabic and has lived in a predominantly Muslim land for nearly thirteen centuries. It has steadily promoted dialogue and has contributed to the progress of local society. Religious freedom, however, has found its place in the space provided by the Arab nationalist Party Ba’aht. The unifying strength of the system was not the Koran, but the adhesion en masse towards other slogans like their independence from and national dignity vis-à-vis the West, the struggle against Israel (especially for matters related to the Golan Heights) and the defense of the Palestinian cause.

Along with the majority of Syrians, Christians have thus suffered from the elimination of free political thought, the fight against the enemy and are continuously subjected to a barrage of propaganda. In the crisis in which Syria has plummeted, Christians find themselves in an extremely delicate position.

The Islamic fundamentalist Salafite matrix has so far been marginal. It has recently been increasing and, at the same time, the clash between the Sunni and the Alawite components is bringing more extremists to the fore.

So, while on one hand the Sunni population has not hesitated to take to the streets and trigger a revolt that has turned into a civil war, on the other hand, the other minority communities, including Christians, have found themselves faced with the dilemma of the strong opposition to Bashar Al Assad and at the same time the fear of Islamic extremism.

Christians, in order to resume dialogue and to stop the violence, have sought to pursue a policy of non-violent reforms along with other minorities (such as the Druze).

In this context, the Syrian Christians are divided into two groups, similarly to what transpired in neighboring Lebanon: the regime’s tacit supporters that want radical reform policies and the detractors, who are mostly young people demanding a regime change.

Many members of this group are active in opposition politics and are located in some regions like Bayrud and Arbi in the region of Damascus and in some areas around Hamh, Homs and Idlib.

The hope is, with continued violence and repression, the peaceful nature of the Christians will cause them to break this silence and concentrate all their efforts in opposition politics. Middle Eastern Christians, instead of giving in to resignation, could therefore play an important role by participating, with moderate Muslims, in the rebirth of their country and thus not interrupting relations of solidarity with the majority of their fellow citizens. Certainly, the outcome of this scenario will depend on many unknown internal and external factors.  


Nicola Censini LLM

Lavoro, Cappa: “Pronti a dare nostro contributo”

Roma – “La disoccupazione giovanile ha raggiunto il punto critico come emerso dai dati Istat pubblicati oggi. All’indomani della festa dei lavoratori, il numero degli under 25 senza occupazione lascia un profondo sconforto nella nostra generazione ma anche una voglia di mettersi in gioco, di non subire soltanto passivamente questa condizione. Siamo pronti a dare il nostro contributo al Governo che lucidamente ha tracciato la volontà di puntare sulla crescita” così dichiara Marco Cappa, Presidente dei Giovani Democratici Europei.

“Complessivamente, nell’Unione europea i giovani senza lavoro sono 5,516 milioni” – prosegue Cappa – “Schieriamo decisi la generazione Erasmus a supporto di un progetto che acceleri la formazione di un’Europa più coesa, con una svolta economica, che porterà come conseguenza più stabilità all’Euro, alle economie dei paesi membri e ai giovani. Confidiamo nella ‘vision’ del Ministro Fornero e del suo Vice Martone. Siamo pronti a presentare loro le nostre idee e contribuire alla costruzione di un futuro che possa essere sempre più a misura di giovani”.


Marco Cappa
Presidente Giovani Democratici Europei


Roma, 2 Maggio 2012








Roma, 2 Maggio 2012

Jerusalem: A Global and Local Issue

Jerusalem is the holy city for the three major monotheistic religions that share the revelation of the Pentateuch; for Jews it’s the city of the Wailing Wall and of Temple Mount, for Christians the place of passion, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, for Muslims the set from which the Prophet is believed to have ascended to heaven and where today is the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Haram Ash-Sharif. In the popular imagination, therefore, “the city of Jerusalem” is the Old City, that is enclosed within its walls built by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1538. In addition, it’s universally known that Jerusalem represents a kind of huge concentration of all issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the city, in fact, the historical and religious complexity is palpable even in social and economic relations and so, the region (land) inevitably becomes not only place but also subject of conflict. Within the walls of the Old City the control and management of places, considered sacred by different religions are reason of argument; while in the wider area of the municipality of Jerusalem there is a rather profound disagreement on rights of use and transit of the land, and also on administrative boundaries. This state of affairs is now even more complex because of the objective constraints imposed by the construction of Security Fence that envelops the city and saves only the western side. According to Israel, this physical barrier has been erected for the safety of the Jerusalemite people, threatened in particular after the Second Intifadah, according to the Palestinians it is a division both symbolic and tangible that seeks to impose a de facto situation on the ground; a way to create a path of no-return whereby Jerusalem, enlarged and enclosed, would be permanently attached to Israel, despite international law and the many pronouncements of the United Nations. The use and spatial planning represents one of the main causes of division. In this direction, together with the Security Wall, it is the construction of Israeli settlements in the north (Givat Zeev),South-West (Gush Etzion) and East (Maale Adumim, Kfar Adumimand) of the Old Town. This is, overall, a process of spatial fragmentation, linked to a re-territorialisation in progress since the first Arab-Israeli war.

This process, which began to provide “new” Jerusalem a different identity, is causing severe social changes and is exacerbating tensions. Which is Jerusalem? Where does it begin and end? Who and how many are its inhabitants? By analyzing different points of view and international law, it is very difficult to give a clear answer to these questions. What you can instead grasp is the key role that Jerusalem might take, as well as, conversely, the possible marginality. In a context of collaboration and mutual recognition between Israelis and Palestinians, the city may in fact perform a valuable “hinge” function , whether it goes in the direction of two different States which constitute the capital city, or whether it takes into account the hypothesis of a “special” city under international protection, or, again if the prospect of a single multiethnic State was to prevail. Among the two components of ethnic and religious practice there is a clear complementarily: the Palestinian Arab labor can be (in many cases is already) very important for Israel in many fields, such as construction, agriculture, industry and even services, Israelis technology and economic development could instead allow a rapid improvement of living conditions in the city as a whole, for the entire population. In this context, Jerusalem could become again the reference point for the economy of the Middle East and resume its historic role as a bridge between East and West. Jerusalem would again be open and integrated, even more than today, and be destination of large flows of international tourism, which would be an additional driving force for urban development. The city could, on the other hand, merely be an offshoot of the State of Israel, should it continue to remain closed because of the persisting Israeli-Palestinian conflict . The Security Wall, although statistics show a decline in terrorist attacks in the city, it does not seem

to be a long-term solution. It not only divides Israelis from Palestinian Arabs, but even among themselves. In West Bank, in fact, the track cuts the region into two parts and makes connections complex between North/South complicating the connections with other Palestinian centers (Jericho, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jenin, Hebron). For Israelis, the situation is not at the best because the Security Wall also makes it difficult for relations between those who are inside the path and those who were cut out. Through the land use resulting, the city has lost its traditional hinterland towards all points of the compass except the West, gaining instead preferential links with Israeli settlements within a radius of about ten kilometers from the administrative limits. In conclusion it is right to say that the geography of Jerusalem seems therefore crucial, as well as the city itself, for Palestine and throughout the Middle East, but even for the world as a whole. Although in recent years the general rule prevailed in considering the status of Jerusalem as a problem to be totally submitted to the agreements between the two parties in conflict, one gets the impression that a definition of this thorny issue can only be identified through the involvement of major geopolitical players worldwide, including Europe, since the fairness and stability of the solution rests not only on the balance of local or regional, but also on the credibility of the United Nations and the relations between the Muslim world on the one hand and the so-called “West” on the other.

Nicola Censini LLM

Reply to President SARKOZY proposal to freeze the contribution to the European Union budget

Flashmob YDE / Génération Bayrou di generation_bayrou

French President Nicolas SARKOZY has announced his plan to freeze the French contribution to the European Union budget if he were re-elected and this in order to save about 600 million Euros per year. Supporting the François BAYROU candidacy in the presidential election, the Young Democrats for Europe condemn this announcement as populist. The shift made towards the extreme right electorate is not at stake with the consequences of this presidential election. This announcement is not credible, either in terms of public finances management, or concerning the European policy of France.

The magnitude of the debt and the French public deficit does not allow invoking measures with so little ambition to reduce our indebtedness. The solution is to be based on a thorough review of public expenditure within the state administration, local authorities and social security, combined with a real tax reform. In this respect, François BAYROU and his team proposed to impose the rule of “zero increase in volume” to all three administrations, to increase VAT of an additional point and to create an additional tax bracket up to 50% for ‘Income Tax (payable beyond € 250,000 per year) in order to get back to balanced budgets in year 2016.

Furthermore, freezing of the French contribution to European Union budget as announced recently by Nicolas SARKOZY would be a terrible mistake for the European and Foreign Policy of France. This is, as often the case with this type of announcements, a legal error in the first place: remind that France, like all European Member States, is committed by the decision called “own resources” and the Lisbon Treaty: its contribution is due automatically by the European Union. But beyond this announcement ignoring the commitments of France, this would be also a political mistake! After the “empty chair” policy announced by the outgoing president about the Schengen Agreement, this has now been added a non-cooperative attitude and non-solidarity vis-à-vis the European institutions work. How can we claim to be part of the engine of the European Union, how to distinguish ourselves from “I want my money back” of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher? The Franco-German motor of European integration has worked first and foremost because Germany and France are the two leading contributors to the budget of the European Union … In addition get reminded that 70% of the European Union budget is provided by national contributions and that France is also the largest recipient of European Union spending and in particular of its Common Agricultural Policy.

So the European funds should be strengthened – instead of being diminished – by real own resources in order to give the European Union the true means of its political, economic, social and environmental ambition. Let’s be clear: only the European Union may prove to offer the size of protective rampart that the French expect to guard against negative effects of globalization. To weigh against China, India and the United States, it will need to be united and stand together.

Sylvie GOULARD, MEP in charge of European affairs for the French “Mouvement Démocrate” proposed in 2010 the creation of own resources based on the financial transactions tax or a European carbon tax. In 2009, the vote of the financial perspective up to 2013, Marielle de SARNEZ and Nathalie GRIESBECK, MEPs as well of the French “Mouvement Démocrate”, were both strongly opposed to the reduction of European funding programmes dedicated to research and development, as innovation is the only way back to growth.

Nicolas SARKOZY wants a “strong” France while tackling at the same time the greatest strength of our country. Young Democrats for Europe support François BAYROU in its approach, a more coherent and ambitious one: it is a strong Europe we need.

Istanbul. ILFRY General Assembly hosted Marco Cappa’s keynote speech.

ILFRY confirmed in the General Assembly the leadership of Thomas Leys. There was the call for freedom for Maikel Nabil (finally released in January 25th 2012). The Resolutions of the GA highlighted a lot of important topics: Tahrir Square, West Papua, Sri Lanka, and Belarus. It was a unique occasion to meet dedicated and passionate people from as far apart as Lebanon, the Netherlands, Sweden, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Norway, Morocco, and Turkey itself talking about human rights and freedom.

Marco Cappa addressed his keynote about the common fight for democracy between YDE and ILFRY. He quoted MLK: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

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Jeunes Democrates Europeens (JDE)
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