Sunday April 09, 2017

Why do we think 'only wars make presidents?' Syrian priest Nadim Nassar responds to U.S. air strikes

A handout photo made available by the US Navy Office of Information shows the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) launching a missile strike while in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. The United States military launched at least 50 tomahawk cruise missiles against al-Shayrat military airfield near Homs, Syria, in response to the Syrian military's alleged use of chemical weapons in an airstrike in a rebel held area in Idlib province on April 4, 2017.

A handout photo made available by the US Navy Office of Information shows the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) launching a missile strike while in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. The United States military launched at least 50 tomahawk cruise missiles against al-Shayrat military airfield near Homs, Syria, in response to the Syrian military's alleged use of chemical weapons in an airstrike in a rebel held area in Idlib province on April 4, 2017. (Seaman Ford Williams/Handout/EPA)

Listen 16:04

This week, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered air strikes on a Syrian government air base in response to a chemical attack that killed at least 70 people, including children.

"No child of God should ever suffer such horror," he said. 

As he watches from England, Syrian priest Father Nadim Nassar says he doesn't understand why previous atrocities in Syria's civil war have not provoked a similar emotional response from world leaders.   

Why now, 70 people, made the whole world stand up and suddenly see it as a horrific thing? Yes, it is horrific. And the 700,000 who died before? Are they the children of a lesser God? Are they less human?  - Father Nadim Nassar 

Nassar is the only Syrian priest in the Church of England. He co-founded The Awareness Foundation, a charitable peace group that addresses religious violence. He was in Syria in December and plans to return later this month. 

He tells guest host David Gutnick that he is frustrated with media commentators like CNN's Fareed Zakaria, who said "Donald Trump became president of the United States" when he ordered the air strikes. 

I have a question to this journalist. If Trump met Putin, and decided, both of them, to end the war in Syria ... Would he also have become a  president? Or are we so used to the fact that only wars make presidents? - Father Nadim Nassar

On Palm Sunday — and the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge — Nassar calls on world leaders to use dialogue and diplomacy to end the crisis in Syria, rather than military might. 

"Today, we are remembering one of the most brutal battles in the first world war," he says. "Today, we should remember also what is happening in Syria is the most brutal civil war, proxy war, that happened in history." 

Click 'listen' above to hear the interview.