Father Paolo Dall'Oglio, S.J. a brawny bear of a man who enunciates each word with a theatrical sense of certitude, scoffs at the "jihad priest" label. He says he remains committed to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in his adopted homeland — a "jihad of the spirit, not a jihad of arms," as he declared during a recent stay in the rebel-occupied Syrian town of Qusair.
Still, the Italian-born priest warns: "If nonviolence becomes another name for a lack of responsibility, then I am not with nonviolence anymore. I am with the right to defend people." Talk like that helped get Dall'Oglio expelled from Syria last month after 30 years in Syria,
where his devotion to Christian-Muslim "harmony" earned him a global following as a charismatic and pugnacious interfaith visionary. The outspoken cleric says he was "kicked out" by church authorities acting on demands from the Syrian government, enraged by his strident pronouncements backing the 16-month uprising against President Bashar Assad. He evinces little sympathy for fellow Christians who fear Assad's fall could unleash an era of Islamist repression."They are in a state of Islamophobia," Dall'Oglio says of Syrian Christians still loyal to a fraying police state that has throttled dissent but tolerated religious minorities for more than four decades. "From the 1980s, all they've heard, repeated and repeated, is that without the Assad state, Syria would be an Islamic hell."
Link (here) to The LA Times