Syrian Americans in Pennsylvania are voicing support for Republican front-runner Donald Trump ahead of an upcoming lucrative primary there, saying he’ll do the most to help their fellow Christians in Syria.
“Mr. Trump, he is the only candidate that ever said, ‘I am an evangelical and I am proud of it, and I am gonna protect the Christians,'” Joseph Moussa, an Arab Christian Evangelical pastor overseeing churches in York and Harrisburg, told The Daily Beast.
Moussa’s cousin was recently killed in Syria after Islamic State militants kidnapped him and his coworkers, so for him the question of how the next president will handle ISIS and Assad, a brutal leader nonetheless known for protecting Christians in an otherwise deadly region, is personal.
“We would like [Assad] to stay because for Christians, he is our protection,” Anthony Sabbagh, another Syrian pastor of an Orthodox church in Allentown told The Daily Beast. Sabbagh said he’d definitely vote for Trump over Clinton, because Trump has indicated he would lessen U.S. involvement in Syria.
Many Syrian Christians support Assad, in spite of his deadly regime, because he provides relative safety to Christians in the region, and lobby against U.S. efforts to oust him from power or diminish his rule. ISIS on the other hand, is reportedly using Christians as human shields in its de-facto Syrian capital of Raqqa.
Pennsylvania has the third-largest Syrian-born population in the U.S., and a suburb with a greater percentage of Syrian-born residents than any town of at least 500.
Moussa also supports Trump’s proposed ban on non-citizen Muslims from entering the country, and says a hundred precent of the Arab Christians in his congregation agree. His relative Ghias Moussa, who also has close ties to the Syrian population in Pennsylvania, told The Daily Beast “all of them are galvanized” by Trump’s campaign.
“You can see that day by day the whole Syrian community is moving towards Mr. Trump,” he said. “He’s been gathering big support. We are hoping that Trump is going to have a big win in Pennsylvania because of the Syrian community.”
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