Two Lebanese Shiite clerics issued an important joint-statement regarding what is happening in Syria, announcing their support for the revolution, and calling on the regional Shiite community not to take a contradictory stance towards what is happening in the Arab world. This statement, which was signed by Mohammad Hassan al-Amin and Hani Fahs, called on the Shiite community to join them in “supporting the Arab uprisings, being reassured by this, as well as the rational fraternal concerns, particularly regarding the justifiable Syrian uprising.”
This statement is important because it is clear that those who issued it are well aware of the quagmire that the regional Shiite intellectuals have embroiled themselves in; as the Shiite position [towards the uprisings] has been selective, and indeed closer to hypocrisy! How could they support all the popular movements in the Arab world, and then return and oppose the Syrian revolution, supporting a murderous and criminal regime such as that of Bashar al-Assad? The other embarrassing issue for the Shiite intellectuals is that Iran and Hezbollah’s positions have been along the same line, namely supporting the toppling of Arab regimes where we have seen popular movement, but preserving al-Assad in Syria for purely sectarian reasons. Therefore the lie of the “resistance” has been completely exposed!
This statement is also important as it represents one of the rare occurrences when we have heard Shiite voices issue an opposing and shocking opinion towards the views held by Shiite extremists. Since the eruption of the Syrian revolution, I – along with others – have called on Shiite intellectuals to break their silence and reject what the criminal al-Assad regime is doing in Syria. We said that it was imperative for Shiite intellectuals to confront their extremists, whoever they might be, whether Hassan Nasrallah or other Iranian allies in Bahrain or al-Qatif, most prominently al-Assad in Syria. This must take place along the same lines that the Sunni intellectuals confronted their own extremists, from states to organizations to individuals, who at one time or another enjoyed sweeping popularity in the Arab street. However the Sunni intellectuals took the decision to confront these extremists, rather than fawn over them in the name of sectarianism.
Some might say that this Shiite statement is too late, after everybody has become aware that there is no hope of al-Assad remaining in power, and this may be right. However what is important is for the Shiites in our region to get used to rejecting what some of their extremists are doing, whether this extremism is in terms of sectarianism or terrorism, or even with regards to submissiveness to Iran at the expense of national and security interests, not to mention social peace and coexistence between the various components of our region. The importance of this Shiite statement is that it serves as a message to the international community as a whole, and prior to this those Shiites who are concerned about what is happening in Syria, not to mention their fears regarding the post-Assad era. This message also shows that the Syrian revolution is not a Sunni revolution; rather it is a revolution against injustice, oppression and backwardness. The al-Assad regime is the other face of the Saddam Hussein regime; Saddam was not a criminal because he was a Sunni, whilst al-Assad is not a criminal because he is an Alawite.
Therefore, we must welcome the Shiite statement on Syria and hope that this will not be the only statement of its kind to confront Shiite extremists and their allies, rather this must be part of a general approach of the Shiite intellectuals in our region. For in the same manner that the Sunnis renounced their extremists, we hope that the Shiite intellectuals do the same, so that our region is one of peace and co-existence, not exclusion and bullying by foreign powers, whoever they may be.