Syrian Christians have labeled the Assad regime’s appointment of Hammoudeh Sabbagh as Parliament speaker a “political ploy for all Syria’s Christians, which would not achieve their religious or national rights.”
The Parliament elected Sabbagh, a Syriac Christian and representative from the city of Hassakeh, as the new speaker after winning a majority of votes cast by lawmakers.
Sabbagh, 58, is the first Christian appointed to this position after Fares al-Khoury, who was head of Parliament more than once before Baath Party rule.
The appointment came days after head of the regime President Bashar al-Assad received participants in the Syriac youth conference and about two months after the previous speaker of Parliament, Hadiya Abbas, was relieved from her position following charges of “undemocratic” behavior.
Suleiman Youssef, an Assyrian political activist, said that Sabbagh’s appointment as speaker was “just a trick and a cheap political bribe for Assyrian-Syriacs and for all Syria’s Christians, and a symbolic step without any legal value on the level of democratic and national rights for Syrian Assyrian-Syriacs.”
Zaffar Assaf, a political activist, believed that “the appointment of a Syriac Christian to this position was a reaction by the regime against the attempts of Kurds in northern Syria, in Hassakeh province specifically, to impose self-rule under force of arms."
He said it was a message to the region that all minorities of northern Syria, and not only the Kurds, have rights in these areas and are able to represent the citizens.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.