BOB MACK/The Times-Union Tony Kassis, a local cardiologist, and his wife, Hazar Kassis, believe that any U.S. reaction is two years too late and that a military strike is not the answer.
BOB MACK/The Times-Union Wajeeh Demetree is from Syria and still has family there. He is against any military action and protested for the U.S. to keep "hands off Syria" earlier this week in Hemming Plaza.
BOB MACK/The Times-Union Maged Zumot said he supports President Barack Obama and what he and Congress decide but is 100 percent against war.
BOB MACK/The Times-Union The Rev. Selwan Taponi, the priest at St. Ephrem Syriac Catholic Church, spoke on the impact the civil war in Syria.
At St. Ephrem Syriac Catholic Church in Jacksonville, parishioners said prayers for people Sunday as they have at so many other Sunday Masses in Syriac, Arabic and English.
A day after President Barack Obama announced he will seek congressional authorization for a military strike on Syria, the question of what comes next looms large for parishioners of St. Ephrem, a church with a large number of Syrian and Iraqi family connections.
The Rev. Selwan Taponi said most of the parishioners he speaks with are opposed to the U.S. launching missiles into Syria. They are skeptical about whether military action can change the course of events for the better and worried about relatives living in Syria amid continuing bloodshed.
Jacksonville resident Wajeeh Demetree’s voice was still hoarse from shouting during a “Hands Off Syria” rally Thursday at Hemming Plaza. He said he wants Congress to refuse to authorize military force.
“Punishment is not the answer,” he said. “The answer is to sit down and have peace. Fighting fire with fire leads to more destruction and lost lives.”
He said he hasn’t seen convincing proof that the Syrian government used chemical weapons. If that proof is forthcoming, he said the United States should work through the United Nations to form an international coalition. As it stands, he said, the civil war in Syria has become a proxy war for other nations supporting either the government or the rebels.
“The fight is between brother and brother,” he said. “But it’s being financed by people outside of Syria.”
Maged Zumot, also worshiping Sunday at St. Ephrem, was among those who support Obama’s call for congressional authorization. Zumot said he worries if there is no response to the use of chemical weapons, it will only lead to more chemical weapon attacks and more bloodshed.
“I want people 100 percent, but we have to stop the evil,” he said.
Tony Kassis and his wife, Hazar, said a U.S. missile strike would not do anything to bring the fighting in Syria to an end, so they want Congress to not authorize military action.
Tony Kassis said he thinks the U.S. could target the missile strikes to avoid civilians, but he fears the “day after” will unleash more chaos and anarchy.
“A lot of people have died without the person killing them even knowing what side they were on,” he said. “It’s a human disaster unfolding in front of our eyes. It has to be stopped.”
“We are powerful enough to intervene diplomatically so we get all sides around the table to talk,” Hazar Kassis said. “At the end of the day, it is the civilians and our relatives who are paying the price.”
\ã-'sir-é-ä\ n (1998)
1: an ancient empire of Ashur
2: a democratic state in Bet-Nahren, Assyria (northern
Iraq, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria.)
a democratic state that fosters the social and political rights to all of
its inhabitants irrespective of their religion, race, or gender
4: a democratic state that believes in the freedom of
religion, conscience, language, education and culture in faithfulness to the
principles of the United Nations Charter —
Ethnicity, Religion, Language
Israeli, Jewish, Hebrew
Assyrian, Christian, Aramaic
Saudi Arabian, Muslim, Arabic
\ã-'sir-é-an\ adj or n (1998)
1: descendants of the ancient empire of Ashur
2: the Assyrians, although representing but one single
nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now
doctrinally divided, inter sese, into five principle
ecclesiastically designated religious sects with their corresponding
hierarchies and distinct church governments, namely, Church of the
East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic.
These formal divisions had their origin in the 5th century of the
Christian Era. No one can coherently understand the Assyrians
as a whole until he can distinguish that which is religion or church
from that which is nation -- a matter which is particularly
difficult for the people from the western world to understand; for
in the East, by force of circumstances beyond their control,
religion has been made, from time immemorial, virtually into a
criterion of nationality.
the Assyrians have been referred to as Aramaean, Aramaye, Ashuraya,
Ashureen, Ashuri, Ashuroyo, Assyrio-Chaldean, Aturaya, Chaldean,
Chaldo, ChaldoAssyrian, ChaldoAssyrio, Jacobite, Kaldany, Kaldu,
Kasdu, Malabar, Maronite, Maronaya, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Oromoye,
Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoye, Suryoyo and Telkeffee. —
1: a Semitic language which became the lingua franca of
the Middle East during the ancient Assyrian empire.
2: has been referred to as Neo-Aramaic, Neo-Syriac, Classical
Syriac, Syriac, Suryoyo, Swadaya and Turoyo.