By: Noor Salahuddin, Chicago, IL
Recently, I read an article in the New York Times, titled “Syrian Children Offer Glimpse of a Future of Reprisals”.
Read it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/04/world/middleeast/in-syrian-conflict-children-speak-of-revenge-against-alawites.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1
In it, David Kilpatrick wrote of the hundreds of Syrian children in Jordan’s Zataari camp who are forced to spend their days in tents, away from home, without the food, shelter, and education they desperately need. Mr. Kilpatrick’s thesis was that all of the Sunni children he met in this camp were overwhelmed by their hatred of President Bashar Al-Assad, his government, his supporters, and most importantly, the Alawites - members of a Shia sect of Islam which makes up ten per cent of its population. In this article, Mr. Kilpatrick repeatedly expressed his shock and concern at the apparently inherent violence and intolerance abundant (manifest) in these children’s nature. He expressed fear for the Alawite population of Syria, which, according to him, “see [Al-Assad] as their best protection against sectarian annihilation”.
Mr. Kilpatrick relates the mindset of these children in a fashion that reveals them to be almost barbaric on an intrinsic level. What he fails to address in his article, however, is the mental trauma these children have experienced at the hands of the Syrian government and its supporters, the result of which is a desire to perpetuate this violence in the form of revenge.
While the Syrian Civil War has caused extensive damage to the country’s infrastructure, economy, society, and global image, it has also irrevocably damaged the collective psyche of Syrian children. Armed militias, such as the government-backed Shabiha, have perpetrated unspeakable physical violence and ethnic cleansing against defenseless women and children. Eyewitnesses have reported that such groups have adopted the “scorched earth” policy; after the Syrian military shells a protesting village or town, the Shabiha further terrorize the residing population by burning homes, firing at families, and destroying everything in their path - whether combatant or civilian, whether man or child, it makes no difference. Air raids and shelling of civilian populations continue despite the United Nations forbidding the Syrian government the use of heavy weapons against civilians.
According to reports, Syrian children as young as eight have been beaten, arrested, detained, used as human shields, tortured and raped in prisons, and killed in an effort to crush and immobilize protesting neighborhoods. Perhaps the single worst incidence of violence committed against children was at the Houla massacre, on May 25th, 2012. The United Nations reported that at least 49 children, younger than ten, had been systematically and deliberately executed in this shameful event carried out by the Syrian military and the Shabiha. Those children that survived the massacre endured armed militia men breaking into their homes and watched their entire families shot point blank, knifed, or butchered by machine guns. Even though the Syrian government denied its involvement in this incident, the UN reported clear evidence that the Assad regime was directly responsible for the attacks. A video posted online of some of the murdered children showed their wrists bound with blue ties, which means that they were tied up before being shot. Modest estimates report that of about 30,000 civilians who have died during the 15-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, about 1,200 are children. Syrian security forces have killed, arrested and tortured children in their homes, their schools or on the streets. In many cases, security forces have targeted children and treated them with the same cruelty as adults.
Jarred and disoriented by the never-ending violence, about 1.5 million Syrians, including women and children, have been displaced within the country and tens of thousands have fled Syria for neighboring countries such as Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon. Some of these are the same children which Mr. Kilpatrick encountered in the Zataari camp of Jordan.
Syrian children display signs of deep emotional scarring, thoughts of revenge and murder, and getting “even with the enemy”, reactions which should not be difficult to fathom considering the history of violence against them. The purpose of this article is not to justify or promote these children’s views. It is to state that violence and hatred are not inherent; they are learned through negative experiences and societal influences. Expecting Syrian children to have an untarnished view of their world is not logical as they were not brought to refugee camps in Jordan from a utopia. They were brought to Jordan’s refugee camps from a country divided against itself, with the all too vivid images of violence and hatred still in their minds. They were taught by their authority figures that violence and hate prevail over peaceful protests and tolerance. Until and unless this young generation is given positive role models and reinforcement, empowerment through a proper education, and most importantly, security for their future, their worldview will be just as skewed and distorted as it is now and they will remain prone to regurgitating what they have been fed up till now; hatred and violence.
By: Mohammad Hassam Kang
A hacktivist-sponsored release of files known simply as the "Syria Files", by online groups Wikileaks and Anonymous, are embarrassing many top level officials, as they include emails from political figures, and ministries associated with the Assad regime. The 2.4 million files released last Thursday were brought to the attention of major media outlets in the Western and Middle Eastern capacity, such as Al Akhbar in Lebanon, Al Masry Al Youm in Egypt, L'Espresso in Italy, NDR/ARD in Germany, Owni in France, Publico.es in Spain, and The Associated Press.
Disputes between Wikileaks and AP ensued, suggesting that AP denied "collaborating" with Wikileaks, and issued a statement saying they were simply reviewing material for coverage. A hard battle is being fought to bring the content of the emails to the attention of the public in both the Middle East and Western nations, where people can make a difference in the direction of affairs. The brutality carried out by the regime has so far been historically significant as much of the Middle East embarks on a period of modeling western democracy to bring about political change.
The emails contain details about inner-workings of the Syrian government and influences on its economy, as well as on the maneuvering of Western diplomacy, and companies to stall progress in the region. One Wikileaks spokesperson stated that those in the West, "say one thing and do another" in their latent support for the regime. The email details how many western standard multi-national corporations are caught selling equipment to the Syrian military, while at the same time condemning its actions, and stating as Secretary of State Clinton did with such alacrity, that the regime's "days are numbered". Although some have supposedly pressed for international sanctions, official actions dictate that commercial bonds that are profitable are not easily broken by the few western nations that condemn the violence in Syria most fiercely.
Firms from the U.S, Italy, and Britain, where Assad's first lady Asma al-Assad originates, were seen carrying on business as usual, much to the dismay of the western media that has exaggerated, and in some cases, fabricated the support by Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia. However, money has been granted to firms in New York and private English tutors from England to help polish the tarnished image of the Assad regime. Emails circulating between New Yorker Brown Lloyd James who was given $5,000 a month in a public relations deal with Assad, as well as emails between Assad and mystery woman Lamis Omar, indicate that Assad took considerable time to polish his western image, and that of his wife.
One such news article in Vogue magazine that wished to accomplish just that, made a full page spread of Asma al-Assad, affectionately referring to her as a "rose in the desert", which is undoubtedtly quite an imaginitive statement used to describe someone who called the children of the town of Homs, which was obliterated by Assad mercenaries, “retards” in joking emails. Among other magazine ventures, James Forbes was also called in for consulting. In another instance British MP George Galloway communicated with figures in the Assad Regime as late as 2010, calling Assad "His Excellency" in an e-mail. Yet another example is an international firm Selex from Italy, which sold vast communication equipment to Assad soldiers. These are just some of the early revelations in the hundreds of thousands of emails that were leaked.
Atleast the assistance by online bloggers in blocking surveillance and helping organize opposition says much more about their concern for the plight of civilian protestors, as the U.N bickers over how to get involved. While the seemless and inane posturing persists, over 17,000 have died at the hands of the military crackdown, and many are starting to ask: with leaders like these, who needs leaders?
Who: Sheikha Munira Qubeysi
Sheikha Munira Qubeysi is considered one of the most influential leaders as she appeared in “The 500 Most Influential Muslims” list in 2009. She is the founder of the largest women-only Islamic movement in the world called Qubeysiat. Qubeysiat offers Islamic education exclusively to girls and women. She is the head of 80 schools in Damascus, which enroll 75,000 students.
Her movement focuses on learning the Quran and Hadith by heart. Because religious education of women was previously neglected, the rise of this much needed movement has allowed it to become incredibly successful. It is currently the leading Islamic movement in Syria, where it originated. She has now accomplished a large chain of madrassas (religious schools) throughout the Middle East.
Considering this great accomplishment, it is no surprise that Sheikha Munira Qubeysi has been titled the 31st most influential Muslim in the world.
By: Anas Alkatib - Davenport University
On Saturday April 14, 2012 a fundraise was held by the Syrian American Medical Society-Michigan Chapter (SAMS-MI). The fundraising was to help out the Syrians that are in dire need of medical supplies inside Syria mainly and assist in helping Syrians that are in refugee camps outside of Syria in neighboring countries.
Dr. Abdelmajid Katranji, who is with SAMS-MI and was the Master of Ceremony, did the opening in which he outlined what SAMS is and what it does. SAMS is a medical organization, a charity that directs medical relief to Syria. Comprised of 7 teams in which they try their best to help, assist, and direct resources to Syrians who can’t get basic and major medical needs.
Afterward, the SAMS-MI President, Dr. Opada Alzohaili, was the first keynote speaker in which he talked about the situation over in Syria. SAMS national president Dr. Zaher Sahloul said, “Syrian problems range from bed wetting, psychological traumas, nightmares, post-traumatic stress disorder, when we went and visited Turkey refugee camps. Some of the stories about the horrors that were happening in Syria are that when the injured go to a hospital, the people would get kidnapped, tortured and killed.”
Later on, Dr. Katranji introduced Dr. Reza Nassiri who is a professor of psychiatry and Global Dean of Health. He pointed out the views of Arab nations and the contrast between them and the United States. There is a high percentage of discontent in the Arab world against the Syrian regime and the desire to take action, while in the United States, a high percentage of the people are of the opinion to not take action on the matter.
Right after that, Professor Randy Hillar, a professor of psychiatry at Michigan State University, explained the psychiatric traumas that the people will face and are facing on a daily basis, which will most likely stay with them for a long time and how it will affect the population over in Syria, which will not take months or years to heal, but a generation or two. People that are silent, the voices that haven’t been heard, are the most victimized.
Dr. Robert Rutha, Chairman of the International Medical Corps (IMC) said that the IMC is one of the main, if not the main, resource to deliver medical and relief supplies to Syrians and Syrian refugees.
In recognition of Z-Medica Quick Clot product. SAMS extended its gratitude and awarded the CEO of Z-Medica who donated more than 17,000 units of its innovative products.
SAMS thanked all the sponsors and partners such as Zaman International, whose founder, Najah Bazzi, attended the event.
Starting with the fundraising, a big nod was given to Abu Al-Hakam Al-Siba’I who donated the most precious thing one can donate: he donated his son who was a medic transporting injured people and received 11 bullets in the process.
To support the cause you can go to: http://internationalmedicalcorps.org
By: Sara Khan Wayne State University
Social media networking sites have risen at an extremely rapid rate over the past decade. Their increasing popularity has led them to become one of the primary sources of communication. People of all ages from different countries use websites like Facebook and Twitter to stay updated with friends, organizations, and celebrities. When utilized in the right way, these sites hold the capability of spreading messages like wildfire all across the globe.
The famous Kony 2012 campaign used social media networking sites to spread a message exactly in this manner. Regardless of the legitimacy of this campaign, we have learned from it the power that social networking sites hold and many organizations are now using the same method of the campaign for other greater causes.
“Unite for Syria” is another campaign recently launched utilizing social media networks. The uprising in Syria started on March 15th, 2011. Since then, it has been a year of bloodshed and hardships for Syrians. Despite their call for help to other nations, they have received very little attention, let alone much help. On the one year anniversary of the Syrian uprising, 200 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from many different countries teamed up to launch the campaign “Unite for Syria.” The purpose of this campaign is to spread awareness of the violence that is taking place in Syria and to put an end to it.
“Unite for Syria” calls out to Russia and China to back up the United Nations Security Council so they can pass a resolution condemning Bashar Al-Assad. Bashar Al-Assad is the president of Syria and is largely responsible for the bloodshed of the citizens in his country.
The campaign urges people to upload photos on Facebook of them holding up a sign that reads “Unite for Syria” and “Stop one year of bloodshed.” The campaign is also spreading on Twitter via #UniteForSyria.
The idea is that the more people that participate, the faster the message will spread and the sooner it will become an international interest capable of making a real difference.
By Anas Alkatib Davenport Univerity
On July 23, there was a rally in Washington D.C. organized by the Syrian American Council (SAC) in support of the peaceful revolution that has been taking place in Syria, and against the atrocities that have been committed by the current regime led by President Bashar Al-Asad.
For over four months and counting there have been countless deaths and thousands of detainees who oppose the regime or even want a change, and people around the world have been peacefully rallying and peacefully protesting the crimes that are happening in Syria, while the Arab league have shamefully quit and are not even raising a flag against what’s going on in a neighbouring Muslim country.
The protest that was organized by the SAC included people that came all the way from Michigan, New Jersey, Chicago, and other parts of Unites States to show their solidarity with the Syrian nation against the current regime, and also to sign a petition to let President Obama know that we, the citizens of United States, are against humans rights violations that are being committed in Syria against peaceful protesters because of their simple demands of freedom.
The following is a letter from SAC to the Turkish ambassador in D.C. urging him to take action against what’s happening in Syria:
Mr. Namik Tan over the past 4 months, the people of Syria went out to the streets in peaceful protests demanding freedom, economic, social and political reforms in their country. Instead of listening to their voices, the Syrian regime decided to meet the people's aspirations with the utmost brutality and repression using live bullets, tanks, choppers, arrests and torture to suppress their voices.
Mr. Ambassador, I believe that the Syrian regime is able to carry out such outrageous acts against its own citizen only because of the shy international stance taken so far against it. I urge you Mr. Ambassador to issue a public statement condemning the horrific acts of
repression that are being conducted upon the Syrian population every day. I also ask of you to urge your Prime Minister Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to issue a public statement declaring that the Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Asad has lost his legitimacy.
You as a reader could also use the same sample to call the ambassadors of your country and voice out your concerns and show your solidarity with and for the people of Syria.
Taking action sometimes is not easy, but as a people of conscience, we should and we must take action to prevent evil from taking place either by hand, or if not, by word of mouth, or if not, by heart; and that’s the least form of action.
As noted in a hadith: On the authority of Abu Saeed Al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah say, “Whoever of you sees an evil must then change it with his hands. If he is not able to do so, then [he must change it] with his tongue. If he is not able to do so, then [he must hate it] with his heart. And that is the slightest [effect of] faith.” (This is a close rendering of the meaning of the Hadith recorded in Sahih Muslim in the Arabic language).
So brothers and sisters in humanity, I urge you to take action, voice out your concerns and show that we all care.
Images courtesy of:
By Mohammad Hassam Kang
The Syrian American Council’s Michigan Midwest Conference was held last saturday to urgently discuss both the antecedents of the syrian crisis, as well as the popular revolt of Syrian youth.
The council spoke on the disparity of Arab American support in the face of the "Arab Spring" as the presenter John Akouri, the CEO of the Lebanese Chamber of Commerce and DC press secretary reminded the room the reason why we were all there: a brighter future in Syria. He was quick to recall, especially as a Lebanese American, the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri linked to Syrian Military, and the end of occupation in Lebenon, when the Assad Regime turned their weapons against their own people.
This was the opening for a robust discussion on Syrian Democracy including Dr. James Zogby of the Arab American Institute, as well as Human Rights Attorney Lena Masri of the Center for Justice and Accountability, and Khalid Saleh of the Syrian American Council. As a statement to the inclusivity and diversity of dissenting voices in the room, a Christian Prayer began the session.
At this time Khaled Saleh, the event organizer made it clear that atrocities against the Syrian people if unchecked will hit closer to home. The precious freedoms that were stolen have lead to protests by the Syrian People who "break the barrier of fear".
It was remembering the spark set off by Mohamed Bouazizi, the fruit vendor, who was rendered unable by police to provide for his own well being when he was forcibly removed from his fruit stand and harrassed by a female officer. He wanted to make a statement. Br. Saleh said that instead of becoming another sad story of hunger and opression, Bouazizi took his life in own hands, and was elevated to the rank of a hero for the embodiment of the rage of the Arab People. In a way he was the first dissenter to make his voice heard loud and clear. People in Syria are fighting 40 years of oppression and are now waging a popular revolution and not an Islamic one. But Br. Saleh was quick to remark that Arab Sectarianism was the main factor in promoting chaos. He lamented that everyone in the Arab world blames one another.
The opposition is desperately in need of funds and a sense of direction, still however in new Syrian protests over a million protested in 50 geographical locations. A projector showed brutality by Syrian military and police beating several protesters with sticks and even opening fire live rounds of ammunition on others, as i looked around the room only to see faces of utter disgust.
So what broader action can be taken to make sure that perpetrators of violent acts against peaceful protests are brought to justice somehow when they serve in the nation’s internal power structure supported by the Assad Regime? Human Rights Attorney Lena Masri of the Center for Justice and Accountability spoke at the program about the purely humanitarian efforts of the CJA that holds total disregard for political manuevering. When i had a chance to sit down with Sr. Masri she explained that it’s difficult to indict human rights violators when the violence is mired in politics and justified by state regimes. This is why it is important for non-governmental organizations and independent pursuers of justice to pressure the International Criminal Court.
Her organization currently has a high success rate in bringing human rights violators to justice in places like Bosnia, El-Salvador, and Cambodia. They depend on witnesses, aid groups, and refugee camps to gather evidence to indict people responsible for such atrocities as extrajudicial killings, the use of child soldiers, and the Hama Massacre of 1982 where the Assad Regime implemented a scorched earth slaughter on the Sunni community of Hama that rose up in revolt. Tens of Thousands of people are said to have died in the indifferent killings by the Syrian Government in Hama. Currently thousands are being displaced even as we speak. If anyone knows a victim or witness of the Assad Regimes agression against the innocent, Attorney Lena Masri has made herself available at LMASRI@CJA.org
Amr Al-Sadiq the Spokesman of Ligan Al-Tanseeq (the official spokesperson of the Syrian Revolution) joined via skype to show the grass roots efforts of opposition forces. As a first hand witness to the protests in Syria he shared his account. He says the government militia is sacrificing a few people in each protest to spread fear and quell further angry protesters from coming out in support of the opposition. People who engage in such protests are risking their very lives to fight for a more open government.
A grim portrait was unveiled to those in attendance as Al-Sadiq told a first hand account of a 16 year old boy being shot in the head mercilessly with AK-47s by government guards. Another grim tale reported by CNN was the torture by genital mutilation of 13 year old Hamza Al-Khateed by the henchmen police of the Assad Regime. Members of the regime always allege that violence was provoked by protesters when the only weapon many of them are found to be carrying is the Syrian Flag.
There are reports of people who after having their homes raided, are being abducted and detained without trial.
The crowd took a celebratory intermission as it was announced that the Syrian Ambassador Imad Mustafa had resigned. A loud Arabic cheer of "People want the regime to go" was chanted as many stood up to clap and cheer. It was clear that those members in attendance from the Arab American community stood in solidarity with their Syrian brothers.
Dr. James Zogby, author of "Arab Voices" and a senior analyst with the polling firm Zogby International joined the debate by adamently calling out Secretary of State Hilary Clinton for saying the Assad Regime has lost legitimacy. "I don't think he had any to begin with" said Dr. Zogby. He told that he's afraid to visit some countries for what the governments have done to their citizens.
He stated more precisely that excluding the young people from participating in politics and excluding businesses from the economy would only delay the process of a freer, more democratic middle east. He said the similarities between the Lebanese and Syrians prove what the Syrians are capable of in terms of contribution in the world economy.
The regime has spread an agenda of Arabism but works to ideologically manipulate and keep people quiet through fear. He said to put in perspective the monumental impact that the Syrian revolution would bring to the Arab world Dr. Zogby characterized Egypt as Broadway and Syria as Hollywood.
However structural change hasn’t been discussed amongst opposition leaders, as so far no period of rebuilding has taken place. It is also noted that the pacifist nature of the peaceful protests conducted by opposition has given the Syrian revolution more legitimacy.
Although many like Arab Christians or Iraqi Refugees who fear change in Syria need confidence that under a more democratic system there will be more accountability, Dr. Zogby warned that if it wants to become like Iraq, Syria will collapse its middle class who in Iraq reportedly fled to various other countries to seek sanctuary from the turmoil when the country was in need of their experience and expertise.
He then remarked that any revolution, including the American revolution, is a slow and gradual process, where even still we face the same problems centuries later that we had on the off-set of the revolutionary period. American standing being lower than it ever has in the region means that people weren't looking for the U.S to "sprinkle holy water on the revolution".
Generally people don't want U.S "directing traffic" or interfering at all in their affairs. Yet, "When Barrack Obama took the oval office, he didn't get handed a magic wand, he got handed the same shovel George Bush was using to dig deep holes" he added.
So far change is welcomed in Syria as long as it’s in the form of a unified effort, unlike in Egypt where opposition is now seperating into different parties. Syrians also want sustainable change so the shift has to be cross-generational.
When we had a minute to speak to Dr. Zogby and asked him if he really believes the current administration is doing enough, and what makes wars in other countries such as Iraq and Libya more salient than fighting agression against innocent people in Syria, he said that the Obama administration is being judged, not by handling of Arab Spring, but by the agendas set by policies of the previous Bush administration. More than ever he says he's sensing stagnancy from the Arab Americans who need to get involved with their local Senators and Congressmen to push for action. The Arab American community loves to comment on affairs of their home country, but nothing will change unless U.S policy also does, and we must lead that change as Americans being in a unique position. "The solution is counter-intuitive" he says.
We in America have to consider that Palestine still stands to be seen as “the wound that never heals” throughout the Arab world, but recently when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu spoke at Congress, he received more standing ovations than our own President. We have to consider that Congressmen Peter King’s holding of ‘Radicalization of American Muslims’ hearings are helping to spread islamophobia in the US.
To help stop this we must seek who is locally involved and support those organizations and also integrate the various sects in our community that all stand for change.
Kuwait and Saudi Arabian Aid is helping the Syrian Government to ward off protestors, but as protests grow the regime is being forced to exhaust all of its resources, spending almost 500 milllion per day. Dr. Hytham Al-Malik, long time legal activist joined the conversation via skype to inform that 3000 tanks are occupying Syrian cities, and over 15,000 people are being detained. Many proposals have been made to give aid to families who have been afflicted. Facing over 40 years of emergency law Syrians now grow less afraid.
In talking to many of the guests I discovered that although change was being demanded, there was a certain resignation to fear in that no solution had yet been proposed.
Revolutions led by blind agression it seems are more susceptible to being hijacked by extremist groups. When people are mad and demanding change they’ll go to extreme lengths. What is necessary is to find the reason behind the agression. Organization of opposition and beginning of structural talks that assure democracy are essential in this.
Images courtesy of:
By Allen Colombo, Oakland University
It was in 1982 when protesters first took to the streets in an uprising against the Ba’athist regime, and it was put down very harshly by then-President Hafez Al-Assad, going so far as to massacre an estimated 10,000 citizens in the city of Hama. These terrible moments in history are again being remembered fresh in the minds of Syrians, who again want reform and change in their country. This time however, the situation is looking much different for the Ba’athists due to the fact that the uprisings are a representation of a vast majority of people throughout the social sphere of Syria. Bashar Al-Assad, it would seem, does not recognize this difference, and continues to respond to the protestors with violence and the use of force, which the Western world is bearing witness to as events unfold. This is another marked difference between the Syria of 1982 and 2011. Another difference that Bashar Al-Assad does not realize, is the amount of time in which events unfold has an effect on his ability to respond to them in certain ways without more and more world outrage. In the world of today, information is available almost instantaneously; and again, as more eyes see the horrors that a party is capable of committing against its own people, the more resistance there will be to such an authority from within and without. The cracks from within are already beginning in the form of the resignation of at least three prominent government officials.
Ammar Qurabi, Head of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria said, "Threats to the regime can only come from the army and the security services," and that "They will not resign or try to change things because they are the ones committing the massacres.” This is something that the outside world should understand when looking at the political situation in Syria. Identifying the structure in which the military is set up will further explain why the military is so stalwart in their protection of the regime. Starting with Hafez Al-Assad, a minority religious sect within Syria was given key positions in the military, this has continued under his son Bashar. Even to the extent that when the first protests formed in March, the first military division to respond was the 4th armored division, which just happens to be led by Bashar’s younger brother, Maher Al-Assad. It should be noted however, that not all of the military structure is made up of forces loyal to the Ba’ath regime, and there have been defectors from the lower ranks. There is still another view to be taken in this conflict, a view that might be seldom thought about by the minority elite families within Syria who have been put in place by the Assad regime. This would be the idea that if they were to defect as a group, they would have influence in the future Syrian republic rather than being forced out by the masses of people angry with those who chose to support the Ba’athist regime.
Looking to the future of Syria, many are remembering the past before the Ba’ath regime established itself. During this time, internal politics were composed of many different groups and families fighting for power, with coups and counter-coupes commonplace. This is something that many Syrians might wish to stay away from. In addition to this, the Assad regime has been very good at giving representation to the minority groups within Syria, and making sure, largely through the use of force, that this type of system remains in place for many years. The state-sponsored media of Syria is using such ideas to try and legitimize their repressiveness towards the protestors. Using the fear of minorities against the majority Sunni Muslim population, the Ba’athists are hoping to hold on to power even just a little longer. If this was not enough, there have also reports of people being taken by the government forces, with such stories as they were going to Friday prayers and never returned, or out shopping; even reports of people being taken from their homes.
The only thread of a silver lining that can be found, is that Bashar Al-Assad lifted the 50 year old state of emergency, one of the major security measures that allowed him to stay in power for so long. With the reports of violent repression of the Syrian government flowing through the media many wonder what the future of the Syrian Arab Republic will look like in the weeks and months to come. If any statement could be made, I feel that it could be summed up in the following words; this mixture of fear, repression, and killings is a potential mixture for dramatic change.