Call it a backlash to change. As familiar protests against the government of a longstanding Middle East ruler began to unfold last month—this time in Syria—hundreds of thousands of Syrians actually turned out in Damascus to protest the protests. And the bloc supporting President Bashar al-Assad included Syrian Christians.

“The churches and Christians are praying for things to remain stabilized, and for the president to stay the same,” one Syrian Christian, a physician and church leader who asked not to be named for security reasons, told me shortly after security forces on orders from Assad cracked down on street demonstrators in the southern town of Deraa, killing at least 30 and by later estimates as many as 150. Many Christians and Muslims, he said, “believe that the current president is the best option for them, with improvements in other areas, because what might come next will not necessarily be better. A huge possibility and probability is that it could be way worse.”

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