Damascus - The newly inaugurated university in the village of Maarat Saidnaya on the initiative of the Syrian Orthodox Church and its Patriarch, Mor Ignatius Aphrem II is called the Antioch Syrian University, ASU. The inauguration ceremony of the new university institute took place on Tuesday 6 November in the presence - among others - of the Syrian Minister of Higher Education, Atef Al-Naddaf, of Cardinal Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio to the Arab Republic of Syria, and of numerous representatives of local Churches and Syrian Islamic communities, together with representatives of the Syrian political world.
In his speech, Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II stressed that the educational activity and contribution to the development of high-level cultural heritage has always accompanied the pastoral work of the Christian communities in the Middle East, including those of the Syriac tradition. "Each monastery" said, among other things, Mor Ignatius Aphrem "became a center of knowledge", and in many ancient Syrian cities centers of higher studies were established such as the universities of Nisibis, Edessa, Qinnasrin and Antioch. With the foundation of the new Antioch Syrian University - added the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch - "we follow in the footsteps of our fathers of the Church", trying to rekindle "the flame of higher education".
Mor Ignatius Aphrem recalled that the project to establish a University sponsored by the Syrian Orthodox Church had taken shape in 2007, on the impulse of his predecessor, Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I, and he also thanked Syrian President Bashar Assad for having favored the realization of the work. Mr Rakan Razouk, President of ASU, outlined the standards of excellence that will be ensured by the courses of the new University. While Mr Atef Al-Naddaf, Syrian Minister of Higher Education, stressed that the opening of new universities is the most effective response to all those who are willing to hinder the re-launch of Syria and its efforts to overcome the long conflict that has devastated the entire nation. >>