Syrians Must Be Encouraged And Not Discouraged to Talk About Sectarianism – By Ehsani

This is what a Syrian commentator wrote on one of the social media outlets this morning:

“Anyone that mentions the name of sect or religion in Syria, in any context, and all those who incite sect or religion in Syria, in any context and all those who try to show a range as a victim and a look executioner in any context is a traitor to Syria and Syria is innocent of it. All intolerance for other than Syria is betrayal. Martyrs have one religion and one sect and that is Syria. Blood flowing on the soil of Syria have a single identity and that is the identity of Syria.”

كل من يذكر اسم طائفة أو دين في سوريا بأي سياق و كل من يحرض على طائفة أو دين في سوريا بأي سياق وكل من يحاول أن يظهر طائفة بمظهر الضحية و طائفة بمظهر الجلاد بأي سياق هو خائن لسوريا و سوريا بريئة منه فكل تعصب لغير سوريا قدس الأقداس خيانة.
للشهداء دين واحد و طائفة واحدة هي سوريا فالدماء التي تسيل على تراب سوريا لها هوية واحدة هي الهوية السورية

While it is hard to argue with pleas to ignore religious and sectarian tendencies that may incite more killings and hatred, ignoring the obvious demons we face does not strike me as a credible solution.

It should be obvious to all of us by now that fake stability is an unsustainable model that is unlikely to last for long. Societies cannot advance and prosper unless they openly face their demons and discuss their long held taboos.

I, for one, want every Syrian to openly discuss everything that ails our society. This covers the role of religion and sectarianism.

We must stop pretending that our nationalistic ideals trump our religious and sectarian tendencies.  The country must embark on a national soul searching exercise that helps us define who we are, what we want and how best to achieve it. Such discussions must be credible and achievable. It is high time that we do away with empty slogans and hollow idealism.

It is obvious to all by now that what we are witnessing in our country is akin to a house of cards that has come crushing down in front of our eyes. The myth of Syrian exceptionalism must be exposed. Asking people to put the lid on their inner sectarian feelings is not the solution. Taboos must be discarded. Honest and open discussions of everything that ails us must now take precedent. Indeed, rather than asking people not to discuss religion and sectarianism, we must encourage and promote such dialogue.

Comments (222)

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201. Ghufran said:

أعلن المعارض السوري هيثم المالح أن المختطفين اللبنانيين ليسوا سوى “ضباط” في حزب الله. وزعم المالح قائلاً في حديث لـ”الجزيرة” السعودية الى أن “اللبنانيين المختطفين في سورية هم ضباط في “حزب الله” وليسوا مدنيين كما يشاع”، وقال أنه “عثر بحوزتهم على أجهزة تشويش ومعدات اتصال عسكرية”.

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May 30th, 2012, 10:33 am


202. Son of Damascus said:

13 people were found with their hands tied behind their backs and executed in DairElZour

The U.N. observers said the 13 dead men had been found on Tuesday evening in Assukar, about 50 km (31 miles) east of the city of Deir al-Zor.

Video footage posted by activists shows the bodies face down on the ground, hands tied behind their backs, with dark pools of what could be blood around their heads and torsos. Mood did not apportion any blame for the killings.

U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said in New York on Tuesday that the Syrian army and “shabbiha” militiamen supporting Assad were “probably” responsible for massacring 108 people in Houla with artillery, tanks, small arms and knives. Syria denied any responsibility and blamed Islamist “terrorists” – its term for rebel forces.

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May 30th, 2012, 10:46 am


203. Alan said:
White House: Military Action in Syria Would Worsen the Conflict
The White House said on Tuesday it opposes military intervention in Syria because it would lead to greater chaos and escalate the humanitarian crisis in the country, but defended providing aid to the opposition.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told a press briefing that while military action is an option that remains on the table for Syria, such an intervention is not the right course of action at this point.

“We do not believe that militarization, further militarization of the situation in Syria at this point is the right course of action,” Carney said. “We believe that it would lead to greater chaos, greater carnage.”/../..

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May 30th, 2012, 11:24 am


204. Uzair8 said:

186. Antoine

Thanks for the responses.

Syria is an Eastern Bloc country. It did seem out of place.

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May 30th, 2012, 11:24 am


205. Alan said:

Video: UK Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt peddling what is now a confirmed fabrication, told for days to the public as the West maneuvered to leverage it against the Syrian government. The UN has now confirmed that artillery fired by government troops were not responsible for the massacre, and instead carried out by unidentified militants. Despite this, the UK has failed to retract earlier accusations and has instead expelled Syrian diplomats in an increasingly dangerous, irrational, aggressive posture.

West’s Houla Syria Narrative Crumbles, Expels Syrian Diplomats Anyway

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May 30th, 2012, 11:38 am


206. Alan said:

Kill Syrian president and get $450,000
Saudi scholar announces reward after massacre in Syrian town
A prominent Saudi Islamic scholar has announced a reward of $450,000 for killing Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, who he branded a murderer.
Sheikh Ali Al Rubai said he would give the reward to any one who kills the Syrian leader following a massacre perpetrated by Assad’s loyalists in Houla neighbourhood in the central town of Homs this week. More than 100 civilians, including many children, were killed during the carnage.

“We announce a reward of $450,000 to any one who will take off the head of murderer Bashar Al Assad, the perpetrator of massacres against women and children that have horrified the whole world,” he said on his Twitter page, according to the Saudi Arabic language daily Ajel.

Saudi scholar, echoing their country’s official policy, have strongly attacked Assad and called for his death. Many of them described the people’s revolt against the Syrian regime as Jihad (holy struggle).

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May 30th, 2012, 11:45 am


207. Alan said:

Russia will veto military intervention in Syria at UNSC – Foreign Ministry

military intervention in Syria = Play Thimble

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May 30th, 2012, 11:56 am


208. Son of Damascus said:

SYRIA WITNESS: The Street Revolution Grows More Complicated

From the first day of the revolution I worked with the people I chose. They were wholly my friends and my countrymen. And when, at times, I was annoyed by some guys during one demonstration, I would stay in my house for days and refuse to take part in the daily rallies in my city.

Like when I was once denied the microphone to talk about an urgent issue. I knew that was wrong, but I am a sensitive man by nature. On the other hand, my anger would not last long because my heart would shake whenever I heard the slogans go high in the streets of my city. These were moments when I couldn’t control my feelings. In many instances, I suddenly found myself among the crowds again walking and chanting angrily at every new massacre committed by the regime.

But now, after 15 months, things have become organized, but more complicated. The arrival of the Free Syrian Army offered us revolutionaries, but it also came with a kind of work hierarchy. With this new bureaucracy you couldn’t move or act freely, of your own mind – following your emotions and feelings – without checking for permission from people in charge.

That did not appeal to a narcissistic person like me. I was especially annoyed when I had to ask the FSA officer every time I wanted to have some tranquil moments on one of the neighboring meadows.


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May 30th, 2012, 12:32 pm


209. Alan said:

الإستخبارات العسكرية الاسرائيلية تتوقع صمود النظام في سورية
حسن حجازي
كشفت صحيفة معاريف انَ الاستخباراتِ العسكريةَ الاسرائيليةَ واجهزةً امنيةً اخرى في كِيانِ العدو تبنت موقفَ قسمِ الاستخبارات في وزارةِ الخارجية الاسرائيلية الذي يقولُ اِنَ الرئيسَ السوري بشار الاسد سيصمِدُ لسنواتٍ عديدةٍ واِنَ سقوطَهُ لن يكونَ سريعا. ونقلت معاريفُ اَنَ تقديراتِ الاستخبارات السابقة التي تنبأت بقربِ سقوطِ النظام كانت سابقةً لأوانِها.

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May 30th, 2012, 12:35 pm


210. Jasmine said:

Dear Ehsani
One would be very optimistic if thinks that expressing sectarian feeling and prejudice will help solving the current political struggle in the ME.
I am very sad and pragmatic at the same time about the civil war in Syria, after all :religions have always played a very destructive role in the history of every nation .
Till we realise that we can exist, create,and love without having someone dressed up in funny robes and head gears telling us how to behave, we will be suffering from wars, invasion and misery.
Having said that, I can’t deny the role of dialogue and reconciliation in any political argument, and this need time and will to mature.
Unfortunately Syrians didn’t learn from the mistakes of their Lebanese neighbours after 17 years of civil war, they couldn’t see the trap ahead and were busy killing and persecuting each other.

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May 30th, 2012, 12:36 pm


211. Tara said:

Dear Zoo @175

I hear you. I have never had any doubt of your affection towards Syria, not once! I also want the absolute truth. The crime is too much to comprehend. It really is very much not Syrian. I am hopeful that the truth will eventually come out.

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May 30th, 2012, 1:33 pm


212. Uzair8 said:

An interesting NPR discussion with guests Prof Landis and Rami Khouri.

A choice of audio or transcript.

Few Good Options Remain To End Syrian Attacks
May 29, 2012

[Selected quote]

LANDIS: Absolutely. And you see, as the revolution have spread, the military has become too thin on the ground, especially in this area around Homs, where we’ve seen so much revolutionary activity. So what the regime has started to do is arm the villages. They’ve just passed out machine guns and other light arms to the villagers in the neighborhood. And we’ve had a series of tit-for-tat strikes now, and that’s undoubtedly what’s happened is that these shabihas – these irregular forces that are using local strongmen descended on this village and wiped it out.

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May 30th, 2012, 1:52 pm


213. Hopeful said:

I have a confession to make.

At the beginning of the revolution, and especially after the massive Hama PEACEFUL demonstrations (, I was hopeful that good change was coming. Like what happened in Eqypt, I thought, the regime would step aside and freedom would come to Syria after 50 years of a suppressive authoritarian regime.

Then as things evolved and the violence started spreading (thanks for the most part to the regime’s brutality, but also to some religious fanatics), I started losing hope in change. In fact, I must admit that, despite the fact that I blamed the regime for most of the violence, and despite the fact that I wanted freedom for Syria, I was secretly hoping the regime would be able to crush the revolution and peace would come back to Syria. You see, I have family living in Syria. I am a middle class coward. Security comes first. Let security come back to Syria, even if it meant decades more of dictatorial leadership. After all, whom among the opposition leaders do I actually believe can lead Syria after the regime falls? No one. Ok then, let’s just keep what we have and get back to life! These were the thoughts that constantly crossed my mind!

But now, as it has become clear to me that the regime combines severe brutality with utter incompetence, I am convinced that it will not be able to silence the revolution, no matter what it does. I am convinced that this regime will go down. The question is: will it bring Syria down with it.

I am hopeful that it won’t.

I am hopeful that reasonable voices from both inside (regime supporters) and outside Syria (Russia) will convince the regime to still do the right thing and agree to step aside.

I am hopeful that the revolutionaries will agree to give up their quest for “justice” in return for a peaceful transition and saving Syria from more death and carnage.

I am hopeful that the FSA will only focus on defending the people and will reject sectarian violence and the urge for revenge.

I am hopeful that the Syrian opposition will realize that it does not have to “unify” to please the world, that it has the right to disagree, that it is enough to share one common goal: help Syria transition from a suppressive dictatorship to a liberal democracy.

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May 30th, 2012, 2:46 pm


214. omen said:

195. zoo said:
In my opinion the three events seem to have been perpetrated by ‘rogue’ elements of the FSA, a violent ‘splinter’ group, made of sadistic jihadists on which no one has any control.

211. Tara said:
The crime is too much to comprehend. It really is very much not Syrian.

zoo, why do you not speculate, in your possible scenarios, about iranian forces who have been newly injected into syria? one never heard before about the use of axes in past killings. the iranian presence coincides with this new kind of butchery.

Iranian forces in Syria

“This is the first time that an IRGC senior officer has admitted that the Quds force is operating in Syria,” said Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-Israeli Middle East expert. “This could be due to the Iranian government feeling threatened by the increasing isolation of Syria and the dangers which such isolation and possible fall of Assad could pose to its interests in Syria, and to its Hizbullah allies in Lebanon.

“By making such an admission now, Iran may very well be wishing to send the message that when it comes to Syria the gloves are off and whoever wants to confront Assad will be confronting Iran’s most experienced and potent special forces operatives.”

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May 30th, 2012, 4:37 pm


215. omen said:

140. bronco said:
#137 Hopeful
“I believe the same can be said about the moderate elements within the Syrian regime/government.”

It is quite different.
The moderate elements of the regime are hostage to the regime because they have been unable to regroup and unable to find a believable leadership in the opposition that presented itself in 15 months. They have no choice that to remain spectators until someone they trust reaches them.


in a million years, this regime will never find any one an acceptable alternative to their iron fisted rule.

the prophet himself could come back to earth and the regime would reject him.

no opposition will be ever be faultless and perfect enough for the loyalists. there is no lone hero riding on horseback coming to the rescue. there is only this:

the people versus the regime.

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May 30th, 2012, 5:07 pm


216. Juergen said:


thank you for your honesty.

Article by SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG, explaining the drift between the french and german position in the conflict

“Driven by fear”

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May 30th, 2012, 5:55 pm


217. SALAH ADDIN said:

214.OMEN said: “one never heard before about the use of axes in past killings”

The killing of Nidal Jannoud in Banias was well documented, including video footage, where he was knifed and struck with axes (satour). The satour has been used by many sick sadistic Syrian criminals throughout the Syrian tragedy. Do we need to blame the Iranian ghosts for the Syrian madness?

215.OMEN said: “there is only this: the people versus the regime.”

From the latest news and analysis of the Houla tragedy massacre, the evidence is pointing towards this conclusion: the people versus the people. It is called civil war.

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May 30th, 2012, 6:55 pm


218. zoo said:

The 13 men killed were Syrian army soldiers probably executed by the rebels.

“Syrian activists said the victims were army defectors killed by Assad’s forces, but it was not possible to verify their accounts.”

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May 30th, 2012, 7:00 pm


219. omen said:

217. SALAH ADDIN said:
The killing of Nidal Jannoud in Banias was well documented, including video footage, where he was knifed and struck with axes (satour).

thank you for the correction.

Do we need to blame the Iranian ghosts for the Syrian madness?


yes we do. not all of the blame, of course, but they must have had a hand in this somewhere, somehow. perhaps even played a part as an influence to ratchet up the violence. what are they even doing in syria? others have noted their reputation for brutality. they’re not in the country to have tea.

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May 31st, 2012, 12:01 am


220. omen said:

217. SALAH ADDIN said:
From the latest news and analysis of the Houla tragedy massacre, the evidence is pointing towards this conclusion: the people versus the people. It is called civil war.


you have evidence that average villagers had a hand in these massacres? people who aren’t military or part of the shabiha?

i’d like to see that evidence.

i find it hard to believe ordinary civilians, somebody who wasn’t hardened and used to committing murder, would have the capacity to torture and kill babies.


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May 31st, 2012, 12:55 am


221. omen said:

217. SALAH ADDIN said:
The killing of Nidal Jannoud in Banias was well documented, including video footage, where he was knifed and struck with axes (satour).

i’ve seen footage of victims with their faces hacked up. at the time, i thought a sword or machete was used.

Do we need to blame the Iranian ghosts for the Syrian madness?

it’s not unheard of for oppressive regimes to supplement their security forces with people not native to the area.

in china, during the tiananmen square protests, officials had to replace part of their military force with soldiers from outside the district. the locals refused to shoot their own people.

bahrain security is staffed with immigrants from abroad who aren’t hampered by any feelings of affinity for the people.

now do you see how bringing in outsiders like the iranians would serve to ratchet up the violence?

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May 31st, 2012, 1:15 am


222. omen said:

warning: the photo at 12:55am is graphic.

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May 31st, 2012, 1:19 am


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