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Syria: The Mufti and al-Rahi - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The first thing that comes to mind for anyone following the Syrian revolution, after the Syrian Grand Mufti’s recent comments threatening the West that there are suicide bombers ready to carry out “martyrdom operations” in the event of Syria being externally attacked, is: What are Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi thoughts on these comments?

Al-Rahi has already warned the international community that seeking to implement democracy in Syria could end up with a radical regime run by Islamic extremists, meaning the Sunnis of course, rather than the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Al-Rahi’s comments came despite the fact that the Syrian revolution was entering its sixth month, and despite the murder and brutal suppression the Syrians have suffered at the hands of the minority regime in Damascus. Despite all the blood and suppression, al-Rahi did not say one true word in the name of the oppressed.

But the surprise today for al-Rahi, and others who advocate the al-Assad regime as the protector of minorities in Syria or elsewhere, whether rightly or wrongly, is the statement, or rather the sermon issued by the Syrian Grand Mufti, Ahmed Hassoun, the Mufti of the al-Assad regime, who threatened: “I say to all of Europe, I say to America, we will set up suicide bombers who are now in your countries, if you bomb Syria or Lebanon”, adding that “from now on an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”.

The question here for Bechara al-Rahi, and those who promote his belief that the al-Assad regime is the protector of minorities, is: If this is the logic of the al-Assad regime’s Mufti, what about fundamentalist groups and militia leaders? If this is the logic of the regime’s Mufti, how can al-Rahi fear the arrival of a fundamentalist regime in Damascus after Bashar al-Assad?

But what is stranger than all of this, at a time when the al-Assad regime, alongside those affiliated to it in the media, or even those who describe themselves as men of religion, are repeating that what is happening in Syria today, in terms of the revolution, is the product of acts of terrorism carried out by armed groups, the Syrian Mufti comes out to say that there are suicide bombers prepared in both Europe and America, and ready to apply the rule “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth!” It is wholly depressing when a Mufti speaks the same language as extremist fundamentalist groups.

So, doesn’t Bechara al-Rahi and others fear what the Syrian Grand Mufti said? Is this not a reason to revise their positions? If the Syrian Grand Mufti has suicide bombers at his disposal in the heart of Europe and America, then what about Lebanon? Was the alleged Abu Adas one of them? Are they similar to what we have seen in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein?

The story here is not an unusual one, but it is important, especially as it came from the al-Assad regime’s Mufti himself, rather than the comments of “analysts” affiliated to the al-Assad regime. Of course ,these statements will help some, including states, to understand a lot about the mysteries of the al-Assad regime in Damascus, and the thought process that runs matters there, and the gravity of the impact of all this on our region, and its security.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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