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More Syrian Bloodshed | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The coffins of Mohamed Saeed al-Bouti and his grandson Ahmed al-Bouti, who both died in a suicide bomb attack, are carried during their funeral ceremony on March 23, 2013 at the Omayyad mosque in Damascus. (AFP Photo)

Ever since the Syrian regime first rose to power via a suspicious and mysterious military coup, with Hafez Al-Assad and later his son Bashar assuming the presidency, dreadful political crimes have been committed one after the other without the evidence ever being shown in public, without the state ever issuing its condemnation, and without the perpetrators ever being prosecuted.

In Syria, suspicious incidents occur one after another without a straight answer being offered, for example about the circumstances surrounding a murder or its causes, and of course, without tracing or arresting the those responsible. The regime always seems content to issue a brief statement from an official Syrian source, who cannot be questioned or asked about further details.

Now we have entered a new chapter of mysterious killings being committed on Syrian soil. Last Thursday a huge explosion erupted in one of Damascus’ main mosques, killing Sheikh Mohammed Saeed Ramadan Al Bouti, one of the Muslim world’s most prominent scholars, together with twenty worshipers. However, several accounts differed considerably as to whether the explosion was actually the result of a suicide bomber, or a mortar shell.

In order to determine who was behind the blast, we must consider the incident from the viewpoint of the Assad government; a bloodthirsty intelligence regime that rules the country in accordance with the principle of “divide and rule”. The regime constantly seeks to sow the seeds of division, sedition, disorder, suspicion, and fear among the affiliates of different sects, and even among the ruling family.

A few days before the incident, the Syrian National Coalition announced that it had selected Ghassan Hitto as the prime minister for its interim government, in a symbolic but extremely serious message to the world that it intends to perform a more significant role in Syria by administering the affairs of territories liberated by the Free Syrian Army. It is commonly known that Ghassan Hitto is of Kurdish descent, and likewise Sheikh Al Bouti was also a Kurd. Furthermore, the terrorist operation on the mosque was carried out on Nowruz day, an important Kurdish holiday.

This cannot all be a coincidence. Al Bouti’s mosque was situated right next to the Russian embassy and the headquarters of a major Damascus intelligence apparatus, surrounded by barricades and troops of heavily armed soldiers. So how could a terrorist laden with explosive devices pass through such a security blockade?

This particular mosque had already witnessed similar security incidents, but the perpetrators always remained anonymous. The Syrian regime holds opposition terrorists accountable for Al Bouti’s death, but the late sheikh used to live in an extremely popular area of the city, where he could have been easily accessed and assassinated by opposition forces if they so wished. In reality, the regime seems to have exhausted its Al Bouti card; it could no longer find any use for an octogenarian who had said all that could be said in support of Assad and against the revolution.

The regime realized that by disposing of this man in a bloody manner, this would once again fuel the fears of minorities and stir up people’s emotions. But the Syrian people cannot be fooled or frightened as easily as they were in the past. The regime’s accounts, rhetoric, and statements have now become a source of ridicule and laughter.

Many have fallen victim to the Syrian regime throughout the years, whether in Syria or Lebanon, and the perpetrators have always remained anonymous. The assassination of Al Bouti can be considered within this bloodthirsty context. With every horrific chapter, the message is reinforced that the Assad regime remaining in power is not only a slight on the Syrian people; it is an utter disgrace to the entire Arab and Muslim world. Getting rid of this regime has now become a humanitarian mission, to make the world a better place.

Al Bouti was a prominent Muslim scholar who is now in the house of the righteous. We must ask God to bestow mercy upon him, and to protect Syria as well as its people.