Local Syrians question military strike strategy

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As he makes his way to the sanctuary, Father Nabil Hanna can't help but play tour guide. He points out the new awning that will shelter families as they walk into the brand new church in Fishers.

He shows where some construction work still needs to be done to complete what will be not only a place to worship, but a school and family center.

As St. George Orthodox Christian Church anticipates its future in Fishers, this week the members of the chuch have also been reminded of its past - a past rooted in religious freedom.

The original founders of St. George were immigrants from Syria who came here in the early 1900s to avoid persecution.

Although the congregation is now very diverse, more than one-third of the 300 families have strong Syrian ties.

"We're heartbroken about the violence, the death, the injuries, the displaced," says Fr. Hanna of the recent unrest in that region. But he also points out, "We don't take political sides. We want respect for everybody."

This past week, reports of an alleged chemical attack by the Bashar Assad regime against civilians have sparked international response.

Britain has called an emergency meeting of Parliament. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has called the violence an attack "not seen since the dark days of Saddam." Iran has warned that foreign military intervention in Syria will result in a conflict that would engulf the region.

As the United States readies for a military strike against Syria, Hoosiers with ties there aren't sure that's the answer.

"We need peace. We need people to come together and talk. We need reconciliation. This has already become a very difficult situation which will take a long time. I think if we add more arms to the situation, we will be inflaming," says Fr. Hanna.

He adds, "Why is this method, where you have on order of hundreds of people who've died, now more alarming than over 100,000 who've already died by bullets and knives? Why are we so focused on chemical weapons and not other weapons?"

No matter what the result, Fr. Hanna explains, "we won't take a political position. We try to work for peace and promote peace."

A U.S. military strike likely won't come before Thursday, when Great Britain holds an emergency meeting of Parliament.