Catholic bishop calls for Easter ceasefire in Syria

VATICAN CITY- A Catholic bishop based in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Wednesday called for "an immediate ceasefire" over Easter in clashes between government troops and armed opposition groups.
"We are calling on all parties in the conflict to accept an immediate ceasefire for the Easter festivities," Giuseppe Nazzaro, the apostolic vicar of Aleppo, said in an interview with the Vatican news agency Fides.

"Easter has always been a day of peace, of hope, of love," he said.
Muslim Syrians "should welcome this moment that is being celebrated by their Christian brothers to find an agreement to return the country to peace and stability... Let them put down their weapons," he added.
Aleppo, which is close to Syria's border with Turkey, has recently been swept up in the armed uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
Nazzaro said there would be few outward signs of Easter celebrations in the region, with no processions or open-air masses planned because of the unrest.
The bishop also called for a rapid acceptance of UN envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan and rejected pressure on Syria from international powers, adding that the country "should not fall into the hands of Islamist groups".
Many in Syria's Christian minority have been critical of anti-Assad rebels and are concerned that the uprising could spark an Iraq-style scenario in which many Christians were forced to flee following the rise of Islamist movements.
Around 7.5 percent of Syria's 20 million inhabitants are Christian.

Thursday, April 5th 2012

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