The Syrian government has a long history of restricting Christian activity.The Assad (Alawite minority) regime, for the most part, has left Christians alone. As long as Christians followed the regime's rules, registered their churches, and didn't evangelize Muslims, they would avoid beatings and imprisonment. Those who violated the rules would be punished.
Syrian Christian evangelists I have met have been closely monitored, interrogated by police and threatened. None have been imprisoned. But now, the Syrian government's attitude appears to be changing, at least for Christians who speak out about what they know.
Just ask Syrian Christian activist Hadeel Kouki.
The 20-year old has been jailed three times for a total of 52 days. Syrian secret police have been chasing after her because she provided medical help to protestors.
She was recently smuggled out of the country and made her way to Egypt.
Today, Ms. Kouki was beaten by Syrian thugs. Not in Damascus, but 400 miles away, in Cairo.
She is set to testify about the regime's atrocities before the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday. Alleged Syrian agents, who either wanted to prevent her from testifying or pay a price for her activism--entered her Cairo apartment today, threatened her life and severely beat her.
Word of the incident was released by the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy. Additonal details were provided by blogger Ahed Al Hendl:
Today, Kouki called me in a panic and crying. She didn’t know what to do. She locked the house and blocked her door.
The content of the message she received was “We are going to displine you like dogs, you traitor, even if you hide on Mars, Assad’s Shabiha will get you. We know all of your activities and we got the green light from your relatives. Your beautifull face will be burned by acid.”
Hadeel’s life is in grave danger. Assad’s agents have the ability in Egypt to hurt her just as the wife of a Syrian activist was kidnaped recently in Egypt and later found on the street.
Assad’s regime might target Hadeel for many reasons. In addtion to her role in helping protesters on the ground, Hadeel’s background as a Christian might harm Assad’s lie of trying portray the uprising as a conflict between armed islamic gangs and a secular regime. Assad is working hard to silence any Christian voices against him.
You can read more about Hadeel Kouki in this article from the Huffington Post.