“He was always pushing us to move forward past our difference and to dream and coexist as Syrians,” said Oula Abdulhamid, 27, the daughter of a prominent Syrian dissident, who had known the priest since childhood and described him as a “grandfather” to her. “Because of him, I learned so much about my country.”
“He said he would be the last person to leave and would suffer the same fate as his people,” said Abdulhamid, who is now based in the United States. “And people are dying there, and now he’s dead too, murdered.”
Full Article: By Loveday Morris
BEIRUT — A Dutch priest who had steadfastly refused to leave the besieged Syrian city of Homs was assassinated by masked gunmen Monday, a killing that robbed Syria of one of its most high-profile interfaith figures.
The Rev. Frans van der Lugt, 75, a Jesuit who had lived in Syria for almost 50 years, was shot in the head in the garden of his monastery in a rebel-held area, according to colleagues and Syrian opposition fighters.
It was unclear who carried out the killing, as rebels and the government blamed each other. But residents said tensions have been high over a possible cease-fire agreement that would evacuate more civilians from rebel-held areas of the city, similar to agreements brokered in the Damascus suburbs in recent months. Extremist rebel groups had objected to further evacuations, said Khaled Erksoussi, head of operations at the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.
The priest was “a Syrian among Syrians” who refused to abandon his adopted people even when it meant risking his own life, Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said. In a statement, the Vatican called van der Lugt a “man of peace” who wanted to remain faithful to the people to whom he had dedicated his spiritual service.