In midst of Syrian war, giant Jesus statue arises

This Oct. 14, 2013 photo provided by the St. Paul's and St. George's Foundation shows workers preparing to install a statue of Jesus on Mount Sednaya, Syria. In the midst of a civil war rife with sectarianism, a 12.3-meter (40-foot) tall, bronze statue of Jesus has gone up on a Syrian mountain, apparently under cover of a truce among three factions - Syrian forces, rebels and gunmen in the Christian town of Sednaya. (AP Photo/Samir El-Gadban, St. Paul's and St. George's Foundation)

This Oct. 14, 2013 photo provided by the St. Paul’s and St. George’s Foundation shows workers preparing to install a statue of Jesus on Mount Sednaya, Syria. In the midst of a civil war rife with sectarianism, a 12.3-meter (40-foot) tall, bronze statue of Jesus has gone up on a Syrian mountain, apparently under cover of a truce among three factions – Syrian forces, rebels and gunmen in the Christian town of Sednaya. (AP Photo/Samir El-Gadban, St. Paul’s and St. George’s Foundation)

(SOURCE)

BEIRUT (AP) — In the midst of a conflict rife with sectarianism, a giant bronze statue of Jesus has gone up on a Syrian mountain, apparently under cover of a truce among three factions in the country’s civil war.

This Oct. 14, 2013 photo provided by the St. Paul's and St. George's Foundation shows workers preparing to install a statue of Jesus on Mount Sednaya, Syria. In the midst of a civil war rife with sectarianism, a 12.3-meter (40-foot) tall, bronze statue of Jesus has gone up on a Syrian mountain, apparently under cover of a truce among three factions - Syrian forces, rebels and gunmen in the Christian town of Sednaya. (AP Photo/Samir El-Gadban, St. Paul's and St. George's Foundation)

This Oct. 14, 2013 photo provided by the St. Paul’s and St. George’s Foundation shows workers preparing to install a statue of Jesus on Mount Sednaya, Syria. In the midst of a civil war rife with sectarianism, a 12.3-meter (40-foot) tall, bronze statue of Jesus has gone up on a Syrian mountain, apparently under cover of a truce among three factions – Syrian forces, rebels and gunmen in the Christian town of Sednaya. (AP Photo/Samir El-Gadban, St. Paul’s and St. George’s Foundation)

Jesus stands, arms outstretched, on the Cherubim mountain, overlooking a route pilgrims took from Constantinople to Jerusalem in ancient times. The statue is 12.3 meters (40 feet) tall and stands on a base that brings its height to 32 meters (105 feet), organizers of the project estimate.

That the statue made it to Syria and went up without incident on Oct. 14 is remarkable. The project took eight years and was set back by the civil war that followed the March 2011 uprising against President Bashar Assad.

This Oct. 14, 2013 photo provided by the St. Paul's and St. George's Foundation shows workers preparing to install a statue of Jesus on Mount Sednaya, Syria. In the midst of a civil war rife with sectarianism, a 12.3-meter (40-foot) tall, bronze statue of Jesus has gone up on a Syrian mountain, apparently under cover of a truce among three factions - Syrian forces, rebels and gunmen in the Christian town of Sednaya. (AP Photo/Samir El-Gadban, St. Paul's and St. George's Foundation)

This Oct. 14, 2013 photo provided by the St. Paul’s and St. George’s Foundation shows workers preparing to install a statue of Jesus on Mount Sednaya, Syria. In the midst of a civil war rife with sectarianism, a 12.3-meter (40-foot) tall, bronze statue of Jesus has gone up on a Syrian mountain, apparently under cover of a truce among three factions – Syrian forces, rebels and gunmen in the Christian town of Sednaya. (AP Photo/Samir El-Gadban, St. Paul’s and St. George’s Foundation)

Christians and other minorities are all targets in the conflict, and the statue’s safety is by no means guaranteed. It stands among villages where some fighters, linked to al-Qaida, have little sympathy for Christians.

So why put up a giant statue of Christ in the midst of such setbacks and so much danger?

Because “Jesus would have done it,” organizer Samir al-Ghadban quoted a Christian church leader as telling him.

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