A heinous terrorist crime took place on Sunday, July 24, while peaceful people were celebrating the inauguration of the Hagia Sophia Church--about 30 miles northwest of Hama, Syria--which was built as a replica of Instanbul’s Hagia Sophia.
At least one civilian was killed and 12 others were injured and material damage was caused as a result of the attack.
The July 24 attack carried out by a drone equipped with high explosives and targeted Hagia Sophia Church in Al-Suqaylabiyah which is a miniature replica of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. The new church was built with the agreement of the Syrian government and the support of Russian political and military sectors. Russia assisted in building the mini-Hagia Sophia to show the importance of “peaceful dialogue” between faiths.
In reaction to the brutal incident, Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East condemned the violent attack stating that the people of Al-Suqaylabiyah are paying the price of their faith by having their blood shed. Noting that what happened is a despicable, cheap, reprehensible act of terrorism, he conveyed his condolences for the martyred person and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded.
Actually, this untimely incident does not bode well for the region. It indicates that no matter how much suffering the people of Syria have been going through, which still impacts their lives up to this moment, the hands of evil continue to tamper with the security of the region by blocking all avenues that would lead to a bright peaceful future. This incident indicates that terrorism in the region has neither been contained nor eliminated, and that strenuous efforts are still needed to eliminate this evil. This brutal act carried out by malevolent hands is untimely because it takes place at a time when there are at present several areas in world suffering from military conflagrations with the world being shoved into an era of instability marked by starvation, rocketing food and oil prices, and a state of general desperation.
It is due time to resort to logic, put an end to the lust of violence and destruction by turning towards building homelands where damage has been wreaked covering all walks of life over the past years.
The joint statement signed by His Holiness Pope and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, on 4 February 2019 in Abu Dhabi, the UAE, known as "the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together" prohibits killing people by stating, "We... call upon ourselves, upon the leaders of the world as well as the architects of international policy and world economy, to work strenuously to spread the culture of tolerance and of living together in peace; to intervene at the earliest opportunity to stop the shedding of innocent blood and bring an end to wars, conflicts, environmental decay and the moral and cultural decline that the world is presently experiencing."
Furthermore, the document calls for the protection of places of worship, indicating that "every attempt to attack places of worship or threaten them by violent assaults, bombings or destruction, is a deviation from the teachings of religions as well as a clear violation of international law."
Thus, this statement accentuates the need to preserve human life and to abstain from attacking places of worship. In other words, human life and prayer places should all the time be ensured protection and care.
When will the peoples of the world grasp the contents of this highly valuable document that sets the bases for global peace?
It is due time to reconsider waving the branches of olive, flying the pigeons of peace, and dedicating time to help our brethren in humanity surmount all world problems with love that we dearly need.
Lord Jesus Christ said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.(John14:27) This is the genuine peace that the entire world aspires to attain.