SHAFAQNA – Syria has endured another year of devastating civil war and strife. However, thousands of civilians in Damascus have been trying to live as normal a life as possible, celebrating Christmas and giving them some respite from the chaos.
Things have not been easy for Christians living in Syria over the last five years since the outbreak of war. Persecuted like other religious groups by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), Christians in Damascus have been able to put the troubles to the back of their minds for at least one day, as they celebrate Christmas.
Tens of thousands of people took part in the celebrations and one of them was RT’s Murad Gazdiev, who took a walk round the streets of the Syrian capital and found an overall feel of hope that things will take a turn for the better in the near future.
“I feel great, I feel safe here thanks to the army and the police that my family can walk the streets in peace,” said one man, who was taking part in the Christmas celebrations.
“Things are changing and I think that this year will be better for us all,” said another bystander.
Hundreds of thousands of Christians have sought refuge in Damascus from religious persecution in other parts of the country and the locals feel for their fellow countrymen and women who have been forced to uproot from their homes in search of safety.
“I feel sorry for all those who were forced to flee their homes, but I have hope for Syria,” a Damascus native told RT.
The scene was one of joy and empathy. Brass bands were playing, while young children were dressed as angels and red Santa hats were plentiful. Some Muslims were even wanting to revel in the Christmas spirit.
“We have all come together. I don’t care about Sunnis, or Muslims or Christians,” a Muslim shopkeeper told Gazdiev. “The most important thing is that we are celebrating. Syria will again once become what it was and we can be whatever we want to be.”
Syrians hark back for happier times before the devastating civil war started, but in trying to celebrate festivals like Christmas, they are making an attempt not to let the bloodshed and atrocities get the better of them and on the contrary show that those of all faiths can get together and fight for a united Syria.