The rebellion against him was just a few days old when Syrian dictator Bashar Assad summoned his country's Christian leaders to the presidential palace in northwestern Damascus. Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius came. He is 78 years old and critically ill, but still a powerful figure. Bishops and archbishops representing Catholics, Armenians, Aramaeans and Assyrians were also present. In total, there were a dozen religious leaders, representing around 2.5 million Syrian Christians.
The message they received from their head of state was short and simple: Either support me, or your churches will burn.
Advertisement - story continues below