USCIRF Co-Chair Maenza commends religious freedoms in the Democratic Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria

NORTH AND EAST SYRIA — Chair of the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Nadine Maenza, in an interview with In Defence of Christians (IDC), touched on the works of the Democratic Autonomous Administration (DAA) in North and East Syria and the difficulties it has faced in recent years.

Maenza, who was awarded the Cedar Award by the IDC president in late September for her tireless efforts in defending Christians and their rights in the Middle East and around the world, stated that she was proud of being appointed as an IDC consulting council member.

“The DAA is the ideal pluralistic democratic model in the Middle East,” said Maenza. “It has established an environment based on respect for religious freedoms and racial equality in which the various components and religions, including the Syriacs [Arameans–Assyrians–Chaldeans], Yezidis, and Muslims live in harmony and mutual respect. Residents of the DAA regions are free to change their belief and religion and everyone has the right to participate in the government and institutions.”

Maenza added that the world is aware of the achievements of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in liberating the region from the abomination of the Islamic State (ISIS), in cooperation with the U.S.-led International Coalition.

“The DAA worked on representing all social groups, religions, and genders within the government and enabled them to participate in decision-making,” she declared, indicating that the DAA mentality is an essential ingredient for the prosperity of all minorities.

Maenza stressed that the DAA most prominent obstacles are the Turkey’s continuous threats and crimes against the region’s residents, their beliefs, and their holy places.

She stressed the need for the U.S. administration to pressure Turkey to withdraw from the areas it has occupied, in addition to officially recognizing the DAA and involving it in developing a political solution to the Syrian crisis.