The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

November 3, 2013

In midst of Syrian war, giant bronze statue of Jesus arises

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 12.3 meters (40 feet) tall and stands on a base that brings its height to 32 meters (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-Qaida, 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.

Al-Ghadban said that the main armed groups in the area — Syrian government forces, rebels and the local militias of Sednaya, the Christian town near the statue site — halted fire while organizers set up the statue, without providing further details.

Rebels and government forces occasionally agree to cease-fires to allow the movement of goods. They typically do not admit to having truces because that would tacitly acknowledge their enemies.

It took three days to raise the statue. Photos provided by organizers show it being hauled in two pieces by farm tractors, then lifted into place by a crane. Smaller statues of Adam and Eve stand nearby.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World
  • U.S.: Russia firing across border

    KIEV, Ukraine — Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Small holes cause big jitters

    SEOUL, South Korea — For the developers of the world’s sixth tallest building near Seoul, a mysteriously shrinking lake and the appearance of small sinkholes in residential neighborhoods couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time. ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Secret photo victims must describe trauma for case

    BALTIMORE — Thousands of women whose genitals might have been photographed during gynecological exams can share a $190 million settlement from Johns Hopkins Health System. But they’ll have to describe their trauma before seeing any money. ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Worries about U.S. consumers drag stocks lower

    NEW YORK — Investors got some bad news about the American shopper on Friday, driving down stocks and sending the Dow Jones industrial average to a loss for the week. Two major U.S. companies — the retail giant Amazon and the credit card ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Air Algerie jet crashes with 116 on board

    OUAGADOUGO, Burkina Faso — An Air Algerie jetliner carrying 116 people crashed Thursday in a rainstorm over restive Mali, and its wreckage was found near the border of neighboring Burkina Faso — the third major international aviation ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Very bad week: Airline disasters come in a cluster

    WASHINGTON — Nearly 300 passengers perish when their plane is shot out of the sky. Airlines suspend flights to Israel’s largest airport after rocket attacks. Two airliners crash during storms. Aviation has suffered one of its worst weeks ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Hong Kong firms on edge as democracy rally blockade looms

    HONG KONG — As activists vow to shut down Hong Kong’s financial district in protest at China’s attempt to hobble democratic elections in the city, businessman Bernard Chan is preparing for the worst. Chan’s investment company has added ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Planes with Ukraine bodies arrive in the Netherlands

    KHARKIV, Ukraine — Two more military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster arrived in the Netherlands on Thursday, while Australian and Dutch diplomats joined to promote a plan for a U.N. team to secure the ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Iraq elects new president as attacks kill dozens

    BAGHDAD — Iraqi lawmakers elected a veteran Kurdish politician on Thursday to replace long-serving Jalal Talabani as the country’s new president in the latest step toward forming a new government. But a series of attacks killed dozens of ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Doctor fired back at gunman

    DARBY, Pa. — A doctor grazed by gunfire from a patient who had entered his office in a suburban hospital’s psychiatric unit stopped him by returning fire with his own gun and injuring him, authorities said....

    July 25, 2014