Outspoken Italian Priest Expelled From Syria


Rev. Paolo Dall’Oglio lived in Syria for 30 years, helping to restore an ancient monastery and turn it into what it is today, a centre for Muslim and Christian understanding. Due to his criticism of the government though, he has now been expelled.

Last year saw the beginning of anti-government demonstrations by the Syrian youth, a move which Dall’Oglio supported. It was then when the government first ordered him out, but a campaign on Facebook delayed his expulsion, until his sudden departure from Damascus on Saturday.

For all the years Dall’Oglio lived in Syria, he spent his time heading a Christian community in the hills outside Damascus, trying to bring understanding between people with different religious backgrounds. In more peaceful times, he made progress, but he says that the uprising has strained the country’s diverse religious fabric.

His departure comes shortly after the Syrian government launched an all-out offensive against the armed wing of the revolution and the priest’s supporters believe that the government is trying to silence a voice for religious tolerance.

Dall’Oglio meanwhile hopes to return to the country he has dedicated his life to, however he fears it won’t be anytime soon.

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