Greek Orthodox priest found dead in church in Syria
65-year-old George Rafiq Housh, a Syrian priest, was found dead at a Greek Orthodox cathedral in Latakia on April 6. Preliminary news suggested that Housh committed suicide, though the narrative is questioned. St. George’s Cathedral is one of the oldest and largest Greek Orthodox churches in the city.
Syria’s Ministry of Interior released a statement saying that “Housh shot himself with his own pistol due to psychological and social pressures.” The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Latakia released a statement as well indicating the priest’s “surprising behaviour”. Housh was reportedly found sitting in a chair with multiple gunshot wounds and a pistol lying on the ground beside him, along with a handwritten note.
Syrian researcher and academic Dr. Samira Moubayed commented that “promoting the story of Father George shooting himself is naive and adopting the regime’s lies, which were repeated during the numerous assassinations he carried out.” He continued that it, “has a clear goal, which is to intimidate the Christians in the region and displace them or push them to despair and apprehension.”
The intimidation of Christians in Syria has been seen in the disappearance of Christian leaders such as two Bishops who were kidnapped in Aleppo in 2013. The death of the Syrian Greek Orthodox priest raises concerns about a faked suicide and false narratives against the Christian community.