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At unlikely moment a 40 foot statue of Jesus Christ has risen in Syria, project begun in 2005, Russia among backers

November 3, 2013

11/2/13, In midst of Syrian war, giant Jesus statue arises, AP, Beirut

 

 

 

 

 

 

“In the midst of a conflict rife with sectarianism, a giant bronze statue of Jesus has gone up on a Syrian mountain, apparently under cover of a truce among three factions in the country’s civil war.

Jesus stands, arms outstretched, on the Cherubim mountain, overlooking a route pilgrims took from Constantinople to Jerusalem in ancient times. The statue is 40 feet tall and stands on a base that brings its height to 105 feet, organizers of the project estimate.

That the statue made it to Syria and went up without incident on Oct. 14 is remarkable. The project took eight years and was set back by the civil war that followed the March 2011 uprising against President Bashar Assad.

 

 

 

Christians and other minorities are all targets in the conflict, and the statue’s safety is by no means guaranteed. It stands among villages where some fighters, linked to Al Qaeda, have little sympathy for Christians.

So why put up a giant statue of Christ in the midst of such setbacks and so much danger? Because “Jesus would have done it,” organizer Samir al-Ghadban quoted a Christian church leader as telling him.

The backers’ success in overcoming the obstacles shows the complexity of civil war, where sometimes despite the atrocities the warring parties can reach short-term truces….

Russians have been a driving force behind the project– not surprising given that the Kremlin is embattled Assad’s chief ally, and the Orthodox churches in Russia and Syria have close ties.

Al-Ghadban, who spoke to The Associated Press from Moscow, is Syrian-Russian and lives in both countries.

Al-Ghadban said he began the project in 2005, hoping the statue would be an inspiration for Syria’s Christians. He said he was inspired by Rio de Janeiro’s towering Christ the Redeemer statue. [below]

He commissioned an Armenian sculptor, but progress was slow.  A series of his backers died, including Valentin Varennikov, a general who participated in the 1991 coup attempt against then President Mikhail Gorbachev. He later sought President Vladimir Putin’s backing for the statue project. Varennikov died in 2009.

Another backer, Patriarch Ignatius IV, the Lebanon-based head of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East, died in 2012. He had donated the land for the statue, according to church official Bishop Ghattas Hazim.

By 2012, the statue was ready, but Syria was aflame, causing the project’s biggest delay, al-Ghadban said.”…top image above from AP article via Fox News, 2nd image also from AP but from another publication, via Lucianne

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Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro sited by an organizer, Samir al-Ghadban, who resides in both Syria and Russia, as inspiration for the statue of Jesus now rising in Syria

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