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Syria: First officially registered Christian church in decades

The „Church of the Brethren”, a Christian church, was opened in September in the formerly occupied city of Kobane. The officially registered church is the first in about 100 years.

Historical new beginning 30 years ago the last church was destroyed, 55 years ago the last service took place, an Orthodox one-day event. During the last years Christians have met in private house churches in Kobane. For a few weeks now, the new church has been officially registered and the opening service has been celebrated in the new building. "With God's help and the permission of the Kobane authorities, we have opened this church," said the pastor. AVC supported and accompanied the foundation of the church.

At the opening a minute of silence was held for all the war victims. A community leader said: "Today's opening of this church is a result of the resistance of Kobane. Hundreds of Kurds and other people have given their lives for Kobane in the region. This city is the key to freedom in the Middle East. The community of people and public life have started again in Kobane today".

Not the end yet Kobane achieved worldwide fame when the Syrian Kurds triumphed over the IS in 2014. Since then the city has been regarded as a symbol of resistance against the IS. Kobane is home to an estimated 300 Christians, some of whom fled from Afrin to Kobane only this year. Christianity has a very long history in this region. There used to be churches in Kobane, and many Armenian refugees settled in Kobane around 1915 when they fled the genocide in their country. The refugees were then forced to convert to Islam. Years of pressure and restrictions from government and society have kept Christians in the region more and more from practicing their faith publicly and in safety. In 2014, when the IS attacked, many Muslim Kurds turned to Christianity for the first time. The IS has challenged their faith.

"In the spirit of democracy, here in Kobane every religion, ethnic group or nationality should once again live together, pray together and help each other," said a member of the Democratic Movement. While the new church is wonderful news, the situation for Syrian Christians remains critical. Christians are repeatedly caught between the fronts of different authorities, and it remains uncertain what the future will bring in this war-torn country.

Sources: Kurdistan24, Smartnews Agency, persecution.org, abouna.org, own sources
Picture: abouna.org