"Our gathering on the occasion of the blessed Christmas is not as to address messages that we in Syria live in fraternity, tolerance and coexistence; because Syria for long did overcome such terms. We are here together as part of our Syrian Social Texture, our civilization and of our history. We, as Syrians, have to transfer what we have to the entire world," said His Excellency President Bashar Al-Assad in a Christmas Address at the Patriarchate of Antioch and of All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Damascus, December 25, 2008. 

"The role of Syria is linked to her historic and civilizational position, and to her rich heritage, which proves that Syria has ever been, and across all times, the ideal example to be followed. The power of Syria lies in her civilization depth, in her Islamic and Christian components, as well as in the power of the Syrian Man with his/her continuity across history phases," reiterated H. E. President Al-Assad asserting that there is no problem among religions as to deem dialogue among them necessary; because they are monotheistic, and that the problem is with those who do not comprehend the essence of religions.

 "We in Syria are born monotheists; we are the natural pattern for society, humanity and for relations among religions. We have to give the ideal example not only for relations among religions, not only for Nationalism, but, further, through a more sublime and comprehensive thing represented in the humanity." underlined His Excellency President Al-Assad. 

On Monday, December 25, 2006, President Bashar al-Assad participated in Christmas celebrations and exchanged congratulations with Christian clergymen and people at the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, in old Damascus. 

Patriarch Ignatius IV Hazim of Antioch and All the East, Patriarch Zakka I Iwas of Syriac Orthodox, the then Minister of Islamic Endowments Ziad al-Din al-Ayyobi and Syria's Grand Mufti Ahmad Hassoun welcomed President Assad upon arrival at the Patriarchate.

 Patriarch Hazim expressed gratitude for President Assad's participation in celebrations, saying "this proves that presidency is not a rule presidency, but it is a paternity presidency." 

The Patriarch presented a brief on the importance of Christmas as it is an occasion for the whole world, particularly in this region, the cradle of Christ and religions. 

For his part, Syria's Grand Mufti Sheikh Hassoun underlined that Syria will remain an example of amity and wisdom, reminding of the role of churches and Christian clergymen in Syria and the region in defending and preserving religious sanctities. 

He added "the aim of religions is to spread peace and dismiss extremism… our land is the land of peace and our home is the home of love and amity." 

President Assad congratulated the attendants of Christmas Day, stressing that "Arabism is not a race; it is a strong belonging to Christianity, Islam, Judaism and to all races that existed in the region". 

"Either Christianity or Islam has emerged from Syria," The President said, underlining Syria's historic and civilized role across history.

 "There is a developed world, but unfortunately this world is not civilized … it talks about the clash of civilizations … through this meeting I hope that we can transfer a civilized message to it," the President noted, pointing out to Syria's strength which is represented by her national unity. 

"Let us destroy the extremism wall and protect the whole world from extremism and fanaticism," President Assad said.

 He concluded that Islamic-Christian fraternity has become a self-evidence fact in Syria long time ago, "let us transfer this message to the whole world … so after hundreds of years some-one may say: let us join Syria's generations and protect Islam and Christianity as well". 

Edited & Translated by

Mohamad Abdo Al-Ibrahim

Rome, December 25, 2008

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