Sunday, November 20, 2005

"Bayanouni and the Muslim Brotherhood" by A. Shadid

I have been meaning to post Anthony Shadid's article for some time to keep on the record.
Inside and Outside Syria, a Debate to Decide the Future

By Anthony Shadid
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, November 9, 2005; A25

LONDON -- The man who may help decide the future of Syria sits in a tidy, two-story house at the end of a drab street of a London suburb, about 2,200 miles from home. Upstairs is his office. Downstairs is a television tuned to the Arabic-language network al-Arabiya, broadcasting another news bulletin on his country, from which he was forced to leave 26 years ago.

"I live here like a stranger," said Ali Sadreddin Bayanouni, the leader of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, the most powerful opposition movement in Syria.

Bayanouni's years of exile, though, are tempered by the modern world. Each day, dozens of e-mails arrive from among 300 addresses in Syria, keeping him abreast of the latest at home. He stays in contact with his fellow Brotherhood leaders, flung across Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Europe. His British cell phone is inundated with text messages. Over last week's Muslim holiday, he received one he called especially memorable. The well-wisher said that, next year, he hoped Bayanouni would be in Damascus. "This regime is probably going to collapse," Bayanouni said bluntly. "It could happen in a week, it could take a year."

For Bayanouni and other exiles, and for Syrian officials and activists inside the country, these days are unlike any in a generation, perhaps any in Syria's modern history. Together, they are retooling ideologies, staking out visions and positioning themselves for a place in Syria's future, even as its present remains opaque amid the crisis over a U.N. investigation that implicated Syrian officials in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri in February.

The debate goes to the heart of questions that have remained unanswered since Syria's independence in 1946: What is the nature of Syrian society, religious or secular? How is its identity best represented? And will Syria's combustible diversity lead to its disintegration?

After 42 years of Baath Party rule, Syria is often portrayed as a country shackled by dictatorship. But in the debate over its identity is a more nuanced portrait of a country every bit as complex as neighboring Iraq and Lebanon. It also reflects the same forces reshaping the rest of the Arab world: tensions between Islamic and secular activists, attempts by government reformers to salvage ideologies many see as obsolete, and moves toward civil society that are frustrated at almost every turn.

In Syria, some of those currents have converged in an unusual way in Middle Eastern politics: Secular and religious figures, still tentatively, are adopting the same language to press for change in the face of authoritarianism.

Both spectator and participant in the debate, Bayanouni sits over a small cup of Turkish coffee and a plate of pastries for which Syria is famous. He interrupts a conversation to watch an al-Arabiya report on possible involvement of President Bashar Assad's relatives in Hariri's death.

"Syrian society today is destroyed," he said. "The primary aim right now is to transform society into a new era where political and democratic life will be rebuilt." He describes himself as optimistic, but says it almost as if he were reassuring himself.

Plotting a Return

Bayanouni is a rare figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the Arab world's oldest Islamic organizations. Founded in 1928 in Egypt, chapters are spread across the Arab world, answering in name to the Egyptian Brotherhood but operating on their own. Syria's Brotherhood was founded in 1945. Bayanouni entered the leadership in the 1970s. As its leader since 1996, he has tried to reform its positions, winning unlikely accolades from other opposition figures, including secular activists who have spent their careers trying to stem Islam's growing influence in Syrian life.

At 67, Bayanouni defies the image of a religious scholar. A father of seven, he is a trim, athletic man, fond of tennis, volleyball and swimming, with a knack for table tennis. He has the probing mind of a sharp lawyer, with a political sense that has helped him navigate the ebb and flow of the Brotherhood's fortunes over decades of sometimes violent activism.

In the early years of Syrian independence, the Brotherhood built support in cities such as Homs, Hama and Aleppo, populated by Syria's majority Sunni Muslims. Long in competition with the secular Baath Party and Communist Party, it proselytized with the slogan, "Islam is the solution," insisting that the ills of the modern world could be treated by a renewed faith.

In the 1970s, the struggle brought the group into conflict with Hafez Assad, a military leader from the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. The Brotherhood and splinter groups assassinated Baathists and Alawite officers and launched attacks in Damascus and elsewhere. The government responded with brute force, leading to what some describe as a civil war, culminating in the crushing of an uprising in 1982 in Hama where estimates of the dead range from 10,000 to 30,000. The movement's leadership was killed, jailed or exiled, its organization inside Syria dismantled.

"The organization made a mistake by being dragged into this battle with the regime," Bayanouni said.

Since then, Bayanouni has been engaged in a process of trying to lay the groundwork for the Brotherhood's return to Syrian politics. His effort is still shadowed by fears that the fall of Assad's government would inaugurate conservative Islamic rule, reversing decades of state-sponsored secularism. The effort, over the objections of some in his group, also marks one of the most decisive shifts in Syrian opposition politics in recent years.

"The organization is not going to be an alternative to this regime," he said. "The alternative will be a broad-based national government to which the Muslim Brotherhood will contribute, as does any other political force."

Among the various Syrian political factions -- Islamic activists, Arab nationalists, Syrian nationalists, communists and other leftists -- nearly every party has abandoned the revolutionary, generation-old notion that it alone can serve as the agent of change. The Baath Party has not; the constitution still declares it "the leading party of both the society and the state." In Bayanouni's words, and in a spate of declarations, the Brotherhood has forsworn that role, mirroring reforms of the group in other countries including Egypt and Jordan.

In 2002, Bayanouni published a national charter that called for a democratic state and rejected violence. In 2004, the Brotherhood disavowed the idea that "we consider ourselves to be the movement that represents all Muslims." In the same document, it endorsed women's rights and said it would seek only the gradual introduction of Islamic law, leaving the actual legislation to elected representatives. (Requiring women to wear the veil, segregating education or banning alcohol "are not a priority at this point," Bayanouni said in the interview.) A year later, in a National Call for Salvation, the Brotherhood disavowed revenge for past crimes and called for political parties and free elections.

Last month, it joined secular and minority opposition groups in endorsing what was called the Damascus Declaration, a four-page manifesto hailed by a still-feeble Syrian opposition as a blueprint for an alternative to Assad's government and a first for cooperation between secular and religious activists.

"The Muslim Brotherhood," Bayanouni said, "is ready to accept others and to deal with them. We believe that Syria is for all its people, regardless of sect, ethnicity or religion. No one has the right to exclude anyone else."

While the moves have won Bayanouni respect among Syria's opposition, fears still run deep that a chasm remains between the Brotherhood's promises and intentions. Anxiety is particularly strong among Syria's minorities -- Christians and Shiite Muslim offshoots such as the Ismailis, Alawites and Druze. To many, the Brotherhood remains an instrument for domination by Syria's Sunni majority. The same fears originally gave rise in part to the Baath Party's Arab nationalism, which was offered as a more encompassing identity than narrow religious sectarianism.

And in Bayanouni's home, his words can still carry an edge. He says the Brotherhood is only one of many Islamic groups, and he claims the government exaggerates his organization's power to frighten secularists and minorities. But in the same moment, he insists the Brotherhood is the only group representing the Sunni majority and the one with the most support. "Everyone recognizes this," he said.

A Militant Undercurrent

In Damascus, Mohammed Habash, a member of parliament and representative of what he calls the liberal trend in political Islam, speaks with a calm that belies the iconoclasm of his words. His ideas are unusual for a Muslim scholar: Islam is not the only path to salvation, he insists, and the prophet Mohammad made mistakes. Reinterpretation is mandatory, he said. The veil, for instance, is not an obligation.

Habash's worry is not the secularism that has dominated Syrian life, but the example of neighboring Iraq, where a more militant brand of Islam filled the void after the collapse of 35 years of authoritarian rule. "I believe we're headed for black days. Let's be honest. You can't put sugar on death," he said, quoting a proverb.

While the Brotherhood's words have assured some in Syria, others worry that the Brotherhood itself may be overshadowed by more militant Islamic groups that would feed off the growing religiosity of Syrian society. That trend is often expressed in outward signs of piety. The spread of the veil is the most striking manifestation. So are men's beards and the burgeoning crowds that turn out for Friday prayers, even in such ritzy Damascus districts as Malki and Abu Rommaneh.

No one knows the strength of the more militant current, whose voice remains largely unarticulated. But reports of the emergence of militant cells -- Jund al-Sham, for instance -- have sent a chill through secular Syria.

"I do not fear the Muslim Brotherhood of the 1950s," said Nabil Sukkar, a former World Bank economist in Damascus. "Moderate Islamists are welcome. I don't think they pose a threat whatsoever. The fear is the extremist Islamists and whether or not they are the majority. I don't know the answer."

Habash estimated 50 percent of Syrians to be religious. Of those, 10 percent are liberal, he said; the rest are inclined to a more traditional or militant reading of Islam. Their influence in the event of change is what worries him. "Conservative Muslims are sleeping now in political life," he said.

Echoing the official line, Habash added: "There's no chance for radicals under the government of Bashar Assad. But if he is gone, the radicals maybe have a chance to do something in Syria."

Political Alternatives

Bouthaina Shaaban has a vision for a secular Syria, an alternative to Habash's fears. A government minister, she is seeking to modernize a ruling ideology deemed by critics to be obsolete and perhaps irredeemable.

As a 16-year-old girl, Shaaban joined the Baath Party when it was still imbued with the ideals of Arab unity and socialism as a means of development. Her loyalty to the Assad family runs deep: After a personal plea to the elder Assad, he revised a law that made it possible for her to attend college. Her fear of the family's demise runs deep.

"There's nothing wrong with the theories of the Baath Party. The Baath Party is a secular party for a start." the 52-year-old minister said. "It says equality between men and women, it gives every Syrian from any social, or religious or political background the right to join the Baath Party. But there were many things that were not done right by the Baath Party, there are many things that need to be fixed. Now the Baath Party is at a stage that if it wants to survive, it has to reform itself."

She has her prescription: a new law for political parties, a market economy and, eventually, free elections. Her model, she said, is Syria in the early 1970s, when there was a sense of economic development, not the 1940s, with its semblance of democratic life. Her remark suggested that the government is dedicated to development over liberalization, modernization over democratization. But the question remains as to what degree of tolerance it will provide.

"I'm not optimistic at all," said Maen Abdul-Salam, a 35-year-old, soft-spoken activist and writer, who smiles rarely. He, too, has a secular vision: the emergence of a vibrant civil society, despite the government's efforts to prevent it. "I'm not optimistic for one simple reason: I hear every day the Syrian authority is willing to change and reform, but I haven't heard one comment that we made a mistake. You can't reform if you don't admit mistakes. You can't go forward if you don't say 'I'm sorry.' "

Abdul-Salam had his own encounter with promises of reform. With another activist, he began planning a conference on women's rights in Damascus in 2001. He went to the minister of social affairs, who promised permission in two days. Two years later -- after more than 100 additional visits, sometimes sitting for six hours at a time outside the minister's office -- he was still waiting. He finally held the conference in 2003 at Damascus University, whose well-connected president provided the facilities.

With little money, Abdul-Salam runs a publishing house, Etana, a name taken from Assyrian mythology. The house is an alternative to starting a nongovernmental organization, which is next to impossible. He was politicized by the "Damascus Spring," a brief period in 2000-2001 that saw a flourishing of long-repressed dissent. And now he sees his mission as creating more space for openness.

"It's like breaking through the wall," Abdul-Salam said. "It's saying to people you have the ability to do something. You can change, you can force change, you can push the red lines the authorities have put in front of you. They can fall."

But he worries about the legacy of decades of authoritarianism that have depoliticized society, wrecking the lively civic culture of the 1940s and 1950s. There is no representation, no rule of law, and in that vacuum, he said, people identify themselves according to their sect and ethnicity -- Sunni, Alawite, Christian and so on. To him, identity has to be based on citizenship, equal rights under one law.

"I'm hoping that change will come from society itself," he said.

'Accept the Other'

At his home in London, Bayanouni talks about returning to the alleys of Jubaila, the quarter of Old Aleppo where he grew up. His father died while in prison in 1975, his mother after he went into exile in 1979. But, he said smiling, he will visit the rest of his family. "There are relatives I don't even know," he said.

For some Islamic activists, years in the West radicalize them, reinforcing their alienation in a culture that's not their own. Not Bayanouni. He said his time in exile helped him reconsider his beliefs.

"One of the things I learned," he said, "was to accept the other."

And in that is perhaps one of the greatest ironies of Arab politics today. To a remarkable degree, albeit with different inflections and still untested, some secular and religious activists are speaking a common language of citizenship and individual rights in the face of authoritarian governments. Bayanouni, echoing Abdul-Salam, said he wanted to see "a civil state based on democratic institutions."

"The religion of the majority is Islam, and the ethnicity of the majority is Arab," he said. "Those are facts on the ground, but citizenship is the base on which people should interact. Whatever is the result of the democratic process should be accepted."


At 11/20/2005 01:06:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

"The religion of the majority is Islam. Whatever is the result of the democratic process should be accepted".

Throughout the article, no mention of whether he would be an advocate of civil law that protects the rights of all the citizens as he calls them, or sharia law that imposes the will of the Immams and their interpretation of the Quran on everyone. I think the answer is clear. Use the keys of democracy to get into the house. Once in, throw the keys away never to be found again.

At 11/20/2005 01:08:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Economic sanctions only, weather smart and narrow, or dumb and wide reaching, will not work as an effective enforcement measure by itself, and it will not advance Syria or it’s ruler one inch into the program. Rather it will send it backward in leaps. With it, the whole Middle East will be sent backward, including Israel.

Economic sanctions needs to be accompanied with organizing opposition and arming them with the necessary fund and technologies to carry out an effective media campaign inside Syria, either based in Lebanon or through Arial means such as developed by Orontes Corporation ( This campaign must be purely run and operated by Syrians only.

Additionally, the assured use of force must be present. That can not be just a U.S. action, it must be Syrian / US action. The face of this action must be at all time Syrian oppositions, not American.

The intent of all this should not be to occupy, chop-up or destroy Syria as the Petro-Zionist plan intend on doing. No Zionist brained, retarded and evil, Faith inspired Shock and Awe campaign to destroy Syria’s Industrial / Commercial Infrastructure and prepare Syria for perpetual Civil War ( for the benefit of Israel of course),. The surgical military operation, if necessary, is primarily to protect unarmed Syrians and their rights. For as long as the regime respect those rights, force should not be used. And if they did not, then surgical force should be used against the aggressor and or his governmental enterprise on a case by case basis. There will be no wide scale use of force and no Government official, Baathist, armed forces or regime base supporter, armed or unarmed, or Mukhabrat, specifically targeted, as long as the entity is not conducting offensive campaigns against Syrians, committing rights abuses, or is a party to such abuse or harmful tactics, but rather using the media in the same way to affect the street and the choices the Syrian people needs to make for Syria’s future. Orontes Corporation ( has developed several defense system that are apt to be successfully and effectively used in such Civil Strife Seek & Combat deployment.

The intent of the Media campaign that is backed by in-kind response and a retaliatory use of force is not, and should not be directed at either removing Bashar or his regime from power, but rather to force him and his regime to make a behavior modification toward how they are running Syria and treating the Syrian people. Forcing him to stop the theft of State properties and resources, removing the Baath yoke from Syrian necks and allowing the kind of representation for various parties that can operate under real reformed laws, that will have an affect on the running of Syria.

Under such a plan, a wide economic sanctions can work concurrent with measures described above, because they will not be indefinite as the case in Iraq. The Baathist Mafia regime will thrive under sanctions only regiment, weather limited and smart or wide reaching, sanction busters are eager to move in on and cease on the opportunities that will be available. Almost positive, that large number of those sanction busters profiteers will be Americans operating through Iraqi boarder ( not Syrian-American).

Does this sound too much like “Barbie in Fairytopia”? Only for three reasons. First, Petro-Zionists planners will never agree to it, allow it, or even promote it. Should it pass through this first e-insurnamable ( how do you spell the damm word) hurdle, it will face the second less difficult obstacle, but not by much. Would international bankers willing to take a chance on the reverse cash flow, even to reverse transfer the $45 billion in cash Assad’s Mafia hoarded abroad, to the lesser benefits of those countries financial systems and economies. Finally can you convince a trenched and absolute Mafia boss, that is backed overtly or covertly by the most corrupt people on earth in power and or out of it, without much blood in the street, to give up his street corner or the whole block, give up absolute monopoly on the market and every cash transaction on that block? This cannot be assured (Saddam is an example) but it has a much better chance to succeed if the Mafia Boss knows that he better cooperate and live reasonably with dignity than if he did not, not only he will be on the run all his life, if he survived, but he will not find a cent to spend, because all his, his family, his Mafia gangster and their family hoarded cash and assets will be taken by the bigger and more powerful organized crime family.

President Buch needs to stop this monkey business and help the people of Syria. The country has the most politicized population in the entire world, They are fearful of the Mukhabrat. Syrians are very disappointed and now are totally distrustful with the Bush Administration, even more so, than from any previous U.S. Administration in the past 40 years.

Syria, like that of Lebanon is very ripe for the kind of transformation to a new updated country more than any country in the world, even more than Lebanon. In fact, the failure of accomplishing this will lead to mess that will spiral out of control. Syria is the missing link in bringing to fruition the goals set by President Bush Greater Middle East Initiative.

In the end, lacking any other measure, sanctions only can go on and on and Bashar will simply outlast the fourth president that will be elected after George Bush leaves office.

The older Bush made a serious and fatal mistake in the past when he left dictator Saddam in power. It is even a greater mistake if the younger Bush leaves the Baath party in sole control of Syria.

If President Bush listen and adopt the incompetent Petro-Zionist dreamers plan, if he to read the junk in-junk out dossiers his CIA and other intelligence agencies shove on his desk and do nothing as they recommend, ( No available alternative), ( No viable option) and rubbish such as this Baathist developed and inspired motto’s, he will loose the entire Middle East and it's oil. If he and America took a back seat and helped all the Syrian oppositions to do the talking and the campaigning, he will win big and leave office with remarkable achievements and good accomplishments that for 2000 years no one, not a person, and not an empire was able to do.

Metaz K. M. Aldendeshe
Syrian Republican Party
The future of Syria
The future of the Middle East

At 11/20/2005 01:23:00 PM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

I agree with Ehsani

At 11/20/2005 03:33:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

As an Alawi, I say frankly that I prefer the MBs and Baynouni a million times to this criminal regime headed by the criminal Assad family. Michel Kilo, who is a Christian man in Syria agrees with me from his Christian point of view also.


At 11/20/2005 04:16:00 PM, Blogger shamee27 said...

I wonder why many people are scared of Islam . hey Ehsani are you muslim or what?
if your are not then change your name to markus or may be david if you wish.
I would say at least 60% of syrian are religious if not more and yes we want shria law. we had enough of this so called civil law I don't know why they are called cvil there is nothing civil about it "man made law" will always lose to "God made law"

At 11/20/2005 04:43:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Shammee27, you must live under civil law where you are, no? If it is so bad, I suggest you pay a visit to Iran. If you have not been, I have and I can tell you, IT SUCKS. Not a single advanced society defined by its standard of living, culture, sciences and arts is governed by anything but civil law. Tell me what a sharia based program will deliver on these benchmarks. I have news for you. Nothing but the crushing of individual liberties and innovation. Scared of Islam? No. Terrified about the future of the country and its propects under Sharia law is more like it.

At 11/20/2005 05:14:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Growing up in Syria till 14 years of age, attending a Jesuit school until 12 years of age, having attended Syrian Public school in 9th and 10th grade only. Having a father that was one of the early member of SSNP and secular thinking, I did not know much about or had any experience with the Moslem Brotherhood Organization.

Although born a Syrian Sunni Moslem, the little I know about Islam is in fact learned from my Russian-Cherkassy grandmother than my family. Never fasted in my life (never will). I been to a mosque once in my life, it was a cultural visit to the Khalid Ibn Alwalid tomb in Homs.

In Syria, my impression with the Brotherhood back then were very negative. I was verbally assaulted and felt threatened by local resident for wearing short pants on a cultural visit to Hama famed Roman water wheels, in the district were Assad’s right hand enforcer Riffat leveled to the ground the neighborhood that had my relatives family name.

Watched once my cousin Muthanna ( tortured and killed by Alawites security) forcefully removing my mother from the front seat of his car on 10 minute trip from Al-Arida to Tel –Kalakh screaming that women should not ride in the front seat according to his belief.

Beaten the hell out of me and hospitalized for injury, by my Syrian Public School Islamic religious instructor in 9th. grade, upset that a Sunni Moslem like me will attend a Jesuit school decided to force the study of Quran on me. By forcing me to memorize and write the complete Al-Anfal Soura while he is watching me, so I don’t cheat. Unfortunately he could not have chosen a worse Soura for me than this one. It is all about who you kill in battle, who you don’t, and how you suppose according to the word of Allah, split the slaughtered “KUFFAR” war loot between fellow Moslem warriors (holy men). Naturally, I want nothing to do with a god that waste his time sending his busiest angle down to the Arabian desert in planet earth, talk to a caravan manager about this Holy Act of slaughter and division of war loot. Seeing him ready to kill me, started writing the famed three words that the Soura start with, over and over for 10 pages, waiting for him to move away, so I can run for my life. Bastard did not. Alawites security forces did my revenge later on when Assad nabbed the Brotherhood. He was tortured and his beard was pulled hair by hair.

Observed many Sunni Moslems who were devout Moslems and practiced the religion so faithfully offering their support and making huge business and contract deals with the Baathists and Alawites when they came to power. Something at that time I resented very much, and thought of it as a betrayal for our relations. Felt betrayed by the Sunni Moslem families that were our family friends for generations like the Hussaini’s, Raslan’s, Rifaai’s, Baroudi’s, Tlaimat’s, Attasi’s and Akhrases.

Now, skipping though time periods and over the well known Ikhwan campaign in Syria in the 80’s to the present. I see the Ikhwan of Syria in a very different assessment from the Ikhwan of Jordan or Egypt who are still a KOUWWA DARIBA.

Syria’s Bayanouni Ikhwan remind me with that sheikh in Homs, the Sibai “awqaf” sheikh who used to run around making corrupt deals with every Baathist in town in the morning, preaching virtue in the afternoon, and his two little girls used to wear the shorted mini skirts in Homs, Not lying, the skirts so short, the girls don’t even needs to bend over to see everything.

Bayanouni and the Moslem Brotherhood, should and must have the Constitutional right to do whatever they wants under the law that the voters by majority voted for. SSPRS will respect those rights and so as all the others rights. SSPRS program promotes the right cities and municipalities to pass own laws that best fit the type of life style the majority of voters in the area wish to live under. That is in similar way the State and Counties in the United States pass laws. You can gamble in the State of Nevada but not in California. You can gamble in Carson, California, but not in Newport Beach, California. You can not show a buddex in Santa Ana, California in night clubs attire. But you can be nude in Anaheim, 5 miles to the North. Using this division in status, SSPRS promote the right of local authority, by Two Third Majority of votes to pass laws that for example can befit a community whereby a Moslem Brotherhood can freely, and legally, implement certain laws and live their life the way they wants.

Syria as you are in this comment knows,, are pretty much as diversified culturally and religiously as the United States is. Therefore, a SHARIA LAW that all the citizens of the country on a National level needs to abide by is not only impractical, it is unfair and unjust to others. It is outdated method of ruling and it is the reason why various Islamic empire collapsed and all those regional religious sects evolved and sprouted out of Islam, each manifesting it is own regional variation of Islam based on local custom and culture, yet it superficially attempt to be part of Islam and under the Sharia. The Sharia Law in fact is what ruined Islam and the empire.

Bayanouni, don’t Sibai me please.

Metaz. K. M. Aldendeshe
Chief Strategist
Syrian Republican Party
The future of Syria
The future of the Middle East
The future and hope of the Islamic Khalifa

Join forces and commit your resources to the land of
Adam, Aram, John, Paul, Muaawya and Khalid Ibn Alwalid.

At 11/20/2005 05:51:00 PM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11/20/2005 06:04:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Sharia Law regarding marriage is not much different, in fact is almost identical to the practice and m=norms found in Civil Contract marriage in California.
So why you insist on National Sharia law? When you can have one Civila Contractual Marriage that can fit Islam and 90 other ethnic and religious sects, it is all about the same, what you write and teh terms of the Civil Marriage Agreement.

Besides, as stated by Metaz above. You can have own sharia law say in Hama city or region. That is fair is not?

At 11/20/2005 06:12:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Also remember that Syria has had dozens of various court systems for various sects, including Alawites and Christians, Catholic and Orthodox courts. So common this is a lot more mess of a legal System. With Sharia Law enforced on the country, you have to have now 40 more courts and legal systems for each sects that refuses and fairly so to be judged and ruled under Moslem Sharia Law. It is more effective to have one basic Civil Law and then let the communities passes law that befit the majorities.


At 11/20/2005 06:16:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Sharia law may work in place like Arabia, where all the citizens are from the same tribe stock, all intermarriged, speek in one lousy Arabic Language and believe in the same god Allah.

Sharia does not work as aNational Legal System if you are trying to rule under Islam various countries, with hundreds of ethnic communities in it.

At 11/20/2005 06:30:00 PM, Blogger World Humanist Organization said...

The Prophet borrowed Sharia concept from Jewish culture and religious practices that are introduced, compiled and instituted not by God, but by the corrupt Jewish class of Preists such as the Saddusee and others the San Heedran, etc.

Christians, alos borrowed this into the Church system, and added a more creative element to it such as Confession (the first Mukhabrat system) to keep track of citizens and blackmail them by the Church corrupt leaders.

The Prophet learned about this from his interraction with Jews in Arabia and trading in Christian Syria.

At 11/20/2005 07:05:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

The US liberated Iraq and now we have an islamic goverment where minoritie are persecuted i know that the US did not mean that to happen but it did ,now the us should learn from that and lead Syria toward economic ,legal and political reform deligently ,ther is nothing wrong with islam ,the prablem is how moslems apply Islam,and in Syria we do not want Sharea law,American economic legal and political system should be imported to Syria As you all know that every moslem in the arab wourld would rather immigrate to the US than to Iran pakistan or Saudi Arabia.

At 11/20/2005 07:13:00 PM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

Shamee27 and Ehsani:

Lets not forget there are places that use combinations of civil and sharia law. Dubai is my example that uses Sharia law in respect to familial issues between Muslims. And last time I was there I was not terrified and certainly felt I was in an 'advanced society' as you put it Ehsani

Dubai Court System

What do people think of a combination of civil and sharia law in Syria? Do you think the Dubai model would work?

At 11/20/2005 07:19:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11/20/2005 07:27:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

You bunch of fools! You were led by Josh to speak about Sharia law as if this is the alternative to the Assad gang, and in order for him to impress his narrow views of Syria on the American readers. Now, you all went into his trap.

This man has no concern for Syria or Syrians in anyway/ His only real concern is to prove that Assad is the only alternative to himself and his corruption and oppressions. He wants to prove at any price that boulversing this regime will mean the coming of Sharia Law, if that law is Evil by itself that is much more evil than the Assad Mafia type rule.

I said earlier, though I am an Alawi whose blood may be demanded by the MBs no matter what my political views may be (with or against Assad) as people believe, that I find their coming to power less threatening to my freedom and my basic rights than to have this Mafia regime of Assad that has destroyed tens of thousands of lives throughtout their existence.

Let any one else come, and I am sure they are better than the Mafia rules.

MBs were real participants in Syria's democratic existence that precded the army dictatorship, and they never participated in any coup d'etat. MBs do not have the majority in Syria, but as people hate this regime, they resorted to the display of being religious, and the regime found in this its good opportunity to show the West that the Syrian people are so religious and Islamists that defeating this regime will mean that the MBs are coming...The Syrian people will express their real will if given the chance. Here we find that even the most anti-regime on this forum are against Sharia law, and that is the real real real real real fact about most Syrians, though there is this religious outlook display that is fooling the world, and is being exploited by the regime and its dear friend, Joshua Landis. Down with OU.


At 11/20/2005 08:03:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

JAM. There is no question that the regime has cleverly used or exploited the potential takeover of political Islam to their advantage. However, I don't share your seeming conviction that most people who are anti this regime are also anti sharia law and political Islam in a broad sense. The fact of the matter is that merely 10 years into Assad's rule, the Moslem Brotherhood did attempt to overthrow the Government and establish an Islamic state. What is interesting to note is that this period was during or immediately following Syria's golden economic years under Assad. Syria during the the 1970's did experience a mini economic boom. The MB movement was not impressed. As they started their program of assasinations and violent terrorist activities against the regime, Assad's response was swift and brutal as we all know. Since then, the regime became convinved that unless it deals with its population with an iron fist, the chances of losing power to the Islamists could not be ignored. Criticising a regime from afar and from our computer screens like we all do is not exactly hard. I think it is a different matter when you are the president on the ground. Of course no one can condone what this regime has done over the past 40 years. Indeed, I have been most critical. But, were you or I leading the country, and were we to be led to believe that the 1980's are inevitable if we loosened our iron grip on power, what would we have done? I think that the risk of political Islamists taking over cannot be dismissed. You seem to prefer them to this regime if that were the only alternative. I beg to differ.

At 11/20/2005 09:04:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11/20/2005 09:09:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

Ehsani ,i agree with you, i was in Syria at that time ,Syria needs to change and improve rapidly but not if the cost is destroying secular Syria where christian and other minorities have equal rights.

At 11/20/2005 09:13:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...


I beg to differ with you. The MBs tried to bother the regime in the later 70's but they did not try to overthrow the regime to establish an islamic state. Their attempt to overthrow this regime was welcomed even by Alawis who were opposed to the regime, and by leftists such as Riad Turk. The Assad Mukhabarat played a big role in changing their revolt to an ethnic cleansing against Alawis, adn I think the Mukhabarat were responsible for many of the ordinary assassinations of small not important Alawis. That was what defeated that attempt in the final analysis.

I say the MBs revolted and it was their right to revolt against a regime that used Sectarianism to govern at the expense of Syria's long tradition of coexistence between all. The problem with low level MBs is that they believed after their crush that their struggle is against Alawis and they equated the regime with Alawis, but I understand their stand, and I know that in a big way, this was a natural consequence of what this regime has done against Syria, and against Alawis in particular for as Karfan said, the regime wanted at all costs to silence all Alawi oppositions and to present itself as the sole representant of Alawis so it can exploit their cheap utilizations to protect the Assad family and its cronies.

I support the overthrow of this regime even by the devil itself. I am sure Islam is far from being that devil that many are portraying it to be.


At 11/20/2005 09:14:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...


At 11/20/2005 09:15:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

can anyone translate to me what this Norman is saying?

At 11/20/2005 09:39:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

JAM,another conspirecy ,The goverment is killing their freinds and blaming the MB?! ,Fayad and Sayegh between others were killed because of their religous affiliation.That is the MB who should never reach power but do not wory if the US continue it,s policy toward Syria that might happen.

At 11/20/2005 09:42:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

I guess that is where our views differ. We both agree that the regime has been an absolute failure on all counts. I think it is hard for a rationle and free thinking person to dissagree. You regard any alternative as being better. You also think that the risks of political Islam is exaggerated. It is here where we dissagree. You seem to want to take a chance. I am fearful of this experiment. My life experiences have taught me not to trust Religious people in a position of political power. The church in the middle ages was an example. Iran is another. With religious zealots in control, you have handed every aspect of your life to the Immam and his interpretations of the words of God. Remember, in Islam it is the absolute word for word of Allah that makes the Quran. You, I or anyone from outside the religious establishment have no room to express dissent, opposition, ask for accountability of our new leaders. You do any of the above and you will be accused of blasphemy. All it takes is citing one verse from the Quran and the case is shut. I don't think free thinkers and progressive minds should ever be subjected to this type of tyranny. After 40 years of Baath tyranny, I think the poeple of Syria deserve better.

At 11/20/2005 09:49:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Syrian Republican Party
The future of Syria
The future of the Middle East

looking for statistical information about Syria’s television broadcast. Very specifically in need of statistical breakdown of the number of T.V sets in use in each city. Sets in rural area (villages), especially in the coastal region. Semi-statistic of dish use and breakdown of dish user profile. Any other information is welcomed.
Contact Broadcasting Director:

Be part of history, be part of New Syria and new Middle East. You can make a difference. Make your voice count.

At 11/20/2005 10:01:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Made me laugh so loud with his last post. I like him, but I know he works for the CIA most likely.
He is the room Moderator.

Imad Atassi
Syrian Republican Party
The future of Syria
The future of the Middle East
When Syrians have a choice
SSPRS is the ticket of choice.

dignity for Syria

At 11/20/2005 10:10:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11/20/2005 10:12:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Mr. Atassi

I am not sure how to read your observation but I will concentrate on the one important positive in there. You claim to like me even though you think that I work for the CIA (wonder what made you think that). As to being the room moderator, I will mark this also on the positive column if I may. As to making you laugh, I hope it was not directed at my ignorance.

At 11/20/2005 10:16:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

Ehsani,i beg to differ with you on this subject.
It's unrealistic to impose secularism by force.
The brotherhood should be intergrated in the political life in Syria.No doubt that they will be a major force but below the absolute majority,around 30%,despite the recent growing of religious sentiment in Syria.
So there will be a need of political alliances.
Unlike the other moslem countries,but like Turkey,the syrian brotherhood belong to the sufi orders and are well educated(most of the syrian teachers and syrian physicians in the arab world are ekhwan),their political pragmatism has always permitted an alliance with communists, seculars and no sunni syrians,during the democratic era of the 50's and 60's and today it's confirmed with the damascus declaration.
the criminals hafez and rifaat repressed the syrian civil society,before the brotherhood's unrest.And the massacre of Hama was not political repression but a genocide against the civilians and the traditional families of Hama like the Kilanis,Azm ,Barazi,Shishakli....translation of a hidden sectarian hatred.

At 11/20/2005 10:21:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...


Making political alliances when you are out of power and looking for a way in is one thing. How you act and govern after you succeeded in getting to your target is another. As to Turkey, were it not for the Army keeping a watchful eye as the official guardian of the legally secular constitution, the country will have a different modern experience, believe me. Indeed, I absolutely favour the Turkish model. A legally binding constitution protected by a professional army general on the one hand, and an elected government by the majority on the other.

At 11/20/2005 10:21:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

Very well said JAM.

At 11/20/2005 10:51:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

Anyway,we dont have second sight.
But one thing is sure ,political exclusion will not resolve problems but at the contrary will toughen those let out of political process.
I agree that ,this integration need a strong constitution to make sure the political alternation.

At 11/20/2005 11:31:00 PM, Blogger Hadad said...

Anton Efendi has compiled several articles published in al-Seyassah in a series on democratic change in Syria. see

At 11/20/2005 11:42:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

No Ihsani2…You are very informed and articulate person. We just don't think you are Syrian. Most likely he thought your illustration of living under the Sharia law was funny, (very real and illustrative of how it will be in fact) I thought so too.

A note here also can be made about the Hypocrisy of religious persona and the theocracy system, as Metaz had illustrated about the Awkaf Sheikh Sibai. Note that Iran’s Mullah sees no problem in supporting the Bath party.

At 11/21/2005 12:18:00 AM, Blogger Nafdik said...

I beleive that Syria and most arab countries need to go through an Islamic phase to test the theory that "Islam is the solution".

This is the will of the majority of the people. Until this "solution" is tried and fails it will always be an explosive issue that will block any other progress.

It is like teenagers who have to experiment with drugs, sex and alcohol. The best you can do is allow them to do with as much guidance as possible, and try to ask them to do it in small doses.

We need to help our country create a framework that will survive the experiment without having a theological dynasty.

At 11/21/2005 12:21:00 AM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Was reading over some commnents before going to sleep and ran into this comment by JAM:

"....I said earlier, though I am an Alawi whose blood may be demanded by the MBs no matter what my political views may be (with or against Assad) as people believe, that..."

JAM, you know that here at SSPRS value your commnets and are proud to have you an Alawites Syrian on board. But I was offended and hurt for reading this commnet. Syrians, are not savages, you made us look like Lebanese geeks.

Everybody that is in Political activities knows well that very few Alawites benefitted from thsi Alawites regime and the community as awhole is not responsible for the act of few. There are more than 1.5 million Alawis in Syria and less than 10,000 are responsible in one way or another. Half a Million in Lebanon, and they are not in any way responsible nor did they ever benefitted in any way from this regime.

Just a note.

By the way, we are experincing real winter hardship in Los Angeles, California. The weather here this month brought unbarable winter storms, it has been constant 90-95 F degree on the pool side. Just to make Landis jelous, living in that Baathist hell hole that he is defending day in day out.

At 11/21/2005 12:30:00 AM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

So i think people may have a dilemna and you really need to ask yourself if you are truly committed to democracy:

Because if you are all for democracy, remember you cannot choose the result and we can't really tell what it would be especially in Syira. Assuming that democracy would lead to the establishment of a muslim brotherhood government, do u:

a) Be a hypocrite and call for regime change and democracy all the while supporting the installation of a liberal secular western supported regime and call it democracy even though it isn't

b) Take the already secular regime as is and promote change from within. They may be corrupt and inefficient but the hard fact is that they also are in power.

c) Tell it how it is. Screw democracy in Syria--we aren't ready for it. Lets find a secular, liberal reform minded 'President' and install him.

d) Support democracy which will produce the best government. Trust the people and the process.

e) other/none of the above

I choose b)

At 11/21/2005 12:41:00 AM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Thought I can go sleep now.
BaathistEngineeringChange, you made the right "b" choice , now shove that up your ass and go see if you and Landis can talk to Bashar about making this change. from within, as you say, You get 90 days, not 90 years.

If something is rotten it can not be changed neither from withing nor from without. You surgically cut the bad part out or through the whole wrotten thing down the trash.

At 11/21/2005 12:42:00 AM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...


At 11/21/2005 12:55:00 AM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Good night Imad.

The constitution rules the country. It makes no difference who are the party in power. They can be the MB, so what!!!. As long as they don't come in like the Baath and Hafez, scrap the legally binding constitution of the land that was in place and adopted by National Referundum and institute own version by force and fake / fraudulant referundum resulting in adopting it by 99.7% of the voters.
Yet no one ver voted or seen the ballot box. See asshole, that is how the Baath did it and so as Hafez. Now get the hell out of here Baathist idiot.

Going to sleep too. Have a good night nice people and those not nice Baathists and supporters, wish you good night sleep and you never ever wake up again.

Metaz K. M. Aldendeshe
Syrian Republican Party
The future of Syria
The future of the Middle East
When Syrians have a choice
SSPRS is the ticket of choice.

dignity for Syria

At 11/21/2005 01:05:00 AM, Blogger said...

Better they wake up in hell and enjoy the available amnities. Or wake up in Syria, but this time, they are again the Alawite farmers living under the Baath party hell.

At 11/21/2005 01:24:00 AM, Blogger DamasceneBlood said...


Your ridiculous name-calling notwithstanding, I think we share something in common: we live in the same area. Not that I want to join your 'party' or anything, but I live in OC, CA, where you seem to reside too. No?

At 11/21/2005 05:53:00 AM, Blogger shamee27 said...

Ehsani ,
Do you take Iran as an example for sharia law?
You are having a laugh right? No one with any mature insight about Iran thinks that this corrupt backward represent Islam by any shape or form.
I advise you to read more about Islam before coming to public forums attacking what you don't even comprehend

At 11/21/2005 07:18:00 AM, Blogger Alterion said...

EHSANI2 wrote:
"All it takes is citing one verse from the Quran and the case is shut. I don't think free thinkers and progressive minds should ever be subjected to this type of tyranny."

Just replace the word Quran from your above statement with the phrase "US Constitution" or any constitution for that matter, this would possibly free you from your allergic reaction to political Islam, and thusly you can hopefully see the miscue in your statement, at least in the world of law and order thatis, unless you're an anarchist, in which case abiding by any law is tyranny in your book. If you want to take this analogy further and tell me there are amendments to the constitution, then I will tell you there are also "ijtihadat" in Islam to suit the changing times, or amendments if you will. I have been to Iran as well and their brand of Imam-lead society (where the Imam is actually divine, thus he speaks on behalf of God), is borrowed from medievil Europe and is actually in violation of Islam. Your Islam phobia (for the lack of a better word), is stemming from the fact that in your life-time you have not seen a good working model of what an Islamic society should be. I say consider Malaysia, and forget Iran/Saudi, etc. for I can see how the latter can be a clear source of fear of tyranny.

At 11/21/2005 07:57:00 AM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

I could not resist a last comment on the subject. To compare "Ijtihadat" to an amendment in the U.S. constitution is spectacualr stretch of the imgagination. Sir, The U.S. constitution is built on the premise of the seperation of religion (church of England at the time) and state. This is precisely what the issue is all about. Political Islam advocates and indeed is built on the precise opposite of seperation of religion and state.

At 11/21/2005 08:36:00 AM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11/21/2005 08:40:00 AM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...


I don't think that's Alterion's point though. His point is that there are mechanisms in Islam suited for progressive miinds and free thinkers. I wonder whether you really listen and might learn a few things from other bloggers--or whether you simply keep on your same path of thinking no matter what.

I have learned a thing or two about economics because of blogger comments.

Yet, even when I have already told you that Iran has nothing to do with true political Islam you act like I never mentioned such a thing. Iran is a failure of political Islam--but true it does show the risks of trying to establish it.

But as Alterion mentions, why not mention Malaysia instead of Iran? Dubai instead of Saudi? I have already mentioned that Wahhab basically got lucky that his ideas were picked up by Saud instead of a more pragmatic or moderate thinker such as Afghani or Shah Walli Allah.

You know, I used to think exactly like you and was absolutely allergic to political Islam. But I educated myself (in a class I took in uni) and learned that there are free and liberal Islamic thinkers. There are models of political islam in theory that are perfectly compatable with the European, liberal Locke ideals etc

I still think true political Islam works great as a theory but would be worried applying it in practice precisely because it can be taken advantage of by immams claiming to be divinely inspired. Much like the Pope used his power and relgigion to wrech havoc in The Crucades. Just imagine Sistani was more a firebrand like Muqtada and you will see my fears.

But will you acknowledge such a thing or continue to absolutely ignore this reality and continue to equate the failed experiment called Iran with political Islam?? At the very least acknowledge that Iran is considered a failure and the worst image of Islam by Muslim clerics around the world. The only people who consider is a success or a representative of political Islam are the aytollahs themselves.

I look forward to your comment.

At 11/21/2005 11:35:00 AM, Blogger shamee27 said...

Ehsani, If you think that religion and daily politics are separated in the US you would be fooling yourself.
in the united snakes: religion=power=politics=money.
I don’t know how you can't see it.
once more i would like you to get my point the constitution of the united snakes are made for them is not made for me the simple minded Syrian fellow , it would work for someone like you who lives and got his brain washed by the American washing machines. A simple minded Syrian man like me who lives in one of {harat dameshek al kadyma} prefer Islam to so called American constitution

At 11/21/2005 11:35:00 AM, Blogger Alterion said...

E.C. has caught my drift. The idea was not to equate the U.S. constitution with the Islamic Sharia, but rather to say they both have mechanisms (to use E.C.'s word) to handle the changing times/circumstances upon application. Also a footnote on this whole separation of church and state thing, do you think the US in recent years (mostly under the Bushes) has been moving in or against that direction? That's to say, at the end, the U.S. Constitution is a piece of paper, whereas the Commander in-Chief (and those who have their arms up his arse) are the ones calling the shots, mostly to the delight of the religious Right, coincidence?
Basically what I am saying is, nations and their leaders do what they think is best for them to protect their interest, and promote their cause, etc. This is more important than adhereing to a catchy slogon simply because it is more hip. You keep falsely citing a fear for non-Muslims rights under Islam, thus the need for the secular law of the land. Again, forget Iran/Saudi. And one more thing, non-Muslims pay (jizya) in Islam, because they're exempt from paying the mandatory zakat (state tax) that Muslims must pay. It is exactly the same (as far as the bottomline is concerened). It is not a punshipment as you were suggesting, but rather it is about bearing their fair share of the state tax.


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