To Arbin, Patriarch John X carried his shepherd’s staff to inspect what had been left by terror. He carried his staff to affirm that the Christian and the Muslim are the two lungs of this Middle East, especially in this country that is a symbol of mutual brotherhood and coexistence.
Patriarch John X and the accompanying delegation started the first stops of their inspection at the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint George, where he was greeted in the outer courtyard of the church by the imam of the Great Mosque in Arbin, Sheikh Ihsan al-Sayyid Hasan, town officials, and parishoners who came to witness the dawning of resurrection. There Patriarch John X said:
“The Church shall remain a witness to the Lord Jesus Christ. She shall remain steadfast in the living faith of her people. Strong winds will not be able to uproot her from this holy land.
We live in Syria as one family, Christians and Muslims. Nothing divides us. We will work hand in hand to rebuild stones and humans all at once. The strange, barbaric spirit of terrorism that destroyed these abodes is a spirit foreign to Syrian culture. It shall find no refuge in this loving country. Therefore we have come today to affirm before all that we are steadfastly remaining and tomorrow shall be better than yesterday.
Syria is a country of peace and coexistence. Syria has been and shall remain the homeland of mutual encounter. Our people are a loving, believing, honest people, who are committed to their faith and always come together in the truth.”
In response, Sheikh Ihsan al-Sayyid Hasan thanked His Beatitude, stating that Christians and Muslims in Arbin are brothers and that dark clouds will not be able to sow the seeds of division and promising that life will return to the town, it will be reborn and that this rebirth is close by.
After that, His Beautitude inspected the Great Mosque in Arbin, which was completely destroyed with only the minaret left standing. Patriarch John X then headed to Harasta at the head of a church delegation to inspect the Church of the Prophet Elijah, which was completely destroyed. He regretted what had been done to it by the hand of terror and the language of destruction, which has nothing to do with religion or morals. His Beatitude affirmed, however, that in the end, everything will return– churches, mosques and homes– and that this return will be realized through the love and mutual support of the people of Harasta, both Christians and Muslims.
His Beatitude then inspected the tombs that had been defiled by the hand of terror. Patriarch John X likewise inspected the al-Zahra Mosque, observing the extent of the destruction to which it had been subjected.