September 29, 2013
On Friday, the Islamic State in Iraq and Al Sham raised their flag over two churches in the northeastern city of Raqqa. Syria’s Christians, the narrative goes, overwhelmingly favor the Assad regime, and can only be protected by it. One small group of rebels, though, works to belie that narrative: the Christians and Muslims behind the sarcastic Facebook page, “The Christian state in Syria and Lebanon.” Here, the page’s creators speak with Abdulrahman al-Masri about their black comedy and Christians within the opposition’s ranks.
Q: Who are you that work on this page? How did you get to know each other?
A: We are a group that works in the revolution in all fields, and we follow the latest the tensions taking place on the ground between the different ideologies of the revolution. Without an introduction, one Christian rebel announced, sarcastically, “the formation of the Christian State of Syria and Lebanon,” saying that we can do whatever anyone else does. For many days, we deliberated on the idea of developing a sarcastic page, and then decided to create a Facebook group.
Photo courtesy of The Christian State in Syria and Lebanon.
Q: How many people are you? Are you friends?
A: The page is managed by several Christian and Muslim men. As I told you we are group of rebels that have coordinated together for a long while.
Q: Can you tell me how many of you manage the page? I heard you are three Christians and two Muslims? Where are you in Syria?
A: Yes, you are right. We are three Christians and two Muslims. The Christians are responsible for posting, but after consulting with our Muslim brothers. I can’t tell you where we live.
Q: What are your goals for the page? Why did you choose to make the joke come to life on the Facebook page?
A: This is a page for sarcasm and dark comedy. We aim to send a message that we must unite and not be distracted by these sectarian ideologies, at least until the revolution achieves its goals of toppling the regime. This page is against any type of sectarianism.
Q: You mentioned Lebanon and not Iraq unlike ISIS, why is that?
A: Just for comedy, as it is not possible that a Christian state will be established. It is purely comic.
Q: Regarding the cover page, is this a Christian FSA battalion?
A: Of course, this is a picture of a Christian Batallion on the ground that has been working continuously.
Q: Where is this battalion working?
A: I can’t tell you, I am sorry. The guys that gave us this picture told us not to give any information about them, so that no one targets them.
Q: But the choice of the cover picture was for comic reasons only, right? Was there another reason [you chose that page]?
A: No. It was to send a message to Syria that we as Christians are with the people of the revolution.
Q: Are you a Christian? Am I talking with the whole team right now?
A: Yes, I am a Christian and the whole team is here next to me as we speak.
Q: I noticed some criticism and attacks [against you], including comments on the page. In your opinion why some Syrians are attacking you?
A: This is because of the variety of opinions and perspectives in Syria. We aren’t surprised by the attacks on our page, as it exists for [those people that attack us], so as to communicate our message to them.