Greek Orthodox nuns released in Syria

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The world witnessed a crumb of positive news from Syria yesterday as the kidnapped Greek Orthodox nuns from the St Thekla convent in Maaloula were released and spoke to the gathered media in the capital Damascus.

The nuns disappeared on 2 December in Maaloula, 35 miles north of Damascus, after the town was seized by the opposition al-Nusra Front group – classed as a terrorist organisation by the United Nations, the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom.

International lawyer Dr Harry Hagopian, the Bishops’ consultant on the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region, reacts to the news in our latest MENA AudioBoo.

“In my opinion, they were released because the Syrian army is making advances towards Yabrud where they were ostensibly kept and a decision was made to release them.”

Celebration tempered by reflection

Good news? Yes. Celebration? Again, yes, but with this positive development comes the need to reflect on the many thousands of Muslims who have been abducted, displaced or killed in Syria since the uprising began almost three years ago to the day.

In our second AudioBoo on the release of the Maaloula nuns, Dr Hagopian widens the lens from its temporary Christian focus…

“We shouldn’t forget our [Christian] sisters and brothers across the world no matter where they are – in the Middle East, in Africa, in Asia, in China, but where I draw the line personally is when we only get obsessed with the Christians in those uprisings and situations of conflict and forget that there are Muslims who are paying a very dear price for all the violence that is taking place.” 

You can also listen to Dr Hagopian’s thoughts using the AudioBoo clips to the right of this page. You can also follow our Middle East North Africa audio at

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Dr Harry Hagopian’s website

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Dr Harry Hagopian