Syrian Christians and Muslims pray together in the St. Mary's Cathedral for peace

Syrian Christians and Muslims have prayed together in the St. Mary's Cathedral (Greek Orthodox Church) in Damascus for peace of the country and for release of the abductees.

The joint prayer, which was held on Wednesday with the participation of several officials, clergymen and dozens of citizens, included Christian hymns in the Syriac language, supplications and two speeches delivered by the Grand Mufti of Syria Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun and Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East John X Yazigi.

There were also two large screens in the cathedral to show programs from the local Islamic TV Channel "Nour al-Sham" and the speech given by the Pope Francis from Vatican. 

The speeches asserted the determination of Christian and Muslims in the country to be hand-in-hand in fighting terrorism and in rebuilding the country.

The Syriatimes' reporter interviewed several participants to highlight their expressions and their wishes in Christmas.

'No decoration'

Maha Awad said: "We wish that today's prayer help restoration of peace and love… there is fear but we have a hope. Our message to the world in Christmas is to love each other as Jesus taught us."

She is from Sadad town in central Homs Province and she is living in Bab Sharqi district in Damascus. She lost one her relatives a few days ago in the ongoing war. "We do not have festivity in this Christmas due to the death of large number of martyrs and our deep grieves over them. Our country deserves sacrifices," Mrs. Awad said.

For the third year running, the crisis deprives Christmas' glamour in all provinces and the Grotto of Nativity was decorated with photos of martyrs as well as the churches confined to prayers only.  

Awad Ma'atoq said: "Love and peace have been spread all over the world from Syria. We hope that all mislead people will return to the bosom of the country. We hope to rebuild our country and to learn a lesson from what happened."

"Syria is the big tree in this Christmas and it embraces all citizens," he added.

"Stronger"

Antwon Raheb, 19 years-old, said: "We hoped to celebrate in Christmas as we had got used to do before 2011…Today we only celebrate at home and we even do not exchange visits with our relatives because most of them travelled abroad. We did not buy a tree for Christmas because we do not feel that we are happy. Now the tree has no meaning for me. "

"We are sure that situation will be better in the near future thanks to the steadfastness of our people and our state." Mr.Raheb added.

Ilham Soltan from the Syrian TV. Channel said: "The joint prayer means a prayer for peace and a prayer for the bleeding country which will witness a victory soon. Despite all the attempts to destroy trees and stones, the Syrian people and army are still steadfast ... the current crisis in the country made us stronger."

"Our deep rooted civilization can not be destroyed and our homeland will remain great .. I missed the joy of children in this Christmas," She added.

"Salute to proud people"

Dr. Aysar al-Medani , Chairperson of NOSTIA (Network of Syrian Scientists, Technologist and Innovators Abroad) and Member of the Group Acting for the Defense of Syria's sovereignty against all interventions in France told us: "This is the first time I attend a Christmas  prayer in Syria from 47years. This time I decided to stay in Syria because it is a very special year. Our people is suffering from the horrible attack against our values, our people and civilization and against our way of life. We hope that Geneva 2 conference may solve something"

She saluted the victory of Syrian people and resistance and standing for its civilization. "We refuse discrimination and all kinds of dictations coming from the US and other countries. We are a very proud country and we are a proud people also, and we will defend all these. Our standing resistance for three years shows that we are winners and we will in spite of all dirty instruments they are using against us."

She sees that the joint prayer reflects the Syrian civilization.  

 Qaysar Dahrani, 9 years old, said: "I came to participate in today prayer for the spread of peace in our country, Syria."

Besides the Syrians who were taking part in the prayer, we met a French group called "Merry Christmas in Syria" and interviewed one of its members.

"Presents to children"  

Charles de Mayer told us: "We arrived here five days ago to give gifts to Syrian children and orphans because we believe that even during the war there must be presents for Christmas."

He commented on the joint prayer by saying:"I feel very glad to see all communities can group together to show solidarity and unity and to support those who suffer from the war and Jihadists."

 "The prayer is to show that each in every religion wants peace. They simply say that we want to live in a peaceful world where each one can accept the religion and want to fight obscurants."

Mr. de Mayer stressed that there is a big difference between what they have heard about situation in Syria and what is going on." When we go back to Paris we will share the truth of what is going on in Syria with the French people."

"President Bashar al-Assad's strategy is good for it enables all communities to live together and for a united nation," he added.

"We were greatly welcomed in Damascus. It is a nice country of rich civilization and we have learned a lot through our contact with Syrian people," Mr. de Mayer concluded.

Two days ago, George III Laham, Patriarch of the Church of Antioch told Xinhua that the three-year-old crisis displaced more than 450.00 Syrian Christian, killed around 1.000 of them and destroyed 85 churches.

Finally, we say Merry Christmas from Syria.

 

Reported by: Basma Qaddour

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