April 3, 2016

AND THEN THERE WERE NONE:

Syrian Alawites distance themselves from Assad (Caroline Wyatt, 3 April 2016, BBC)

In a deeply unusual move, leaders of President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite sect in Syria have released a document, obtained by the BBC, that distances themselves from his regime and outlines what kind of future they wish for the country after five years of civil war.

The community and religious leaders say they hope to "shine a light" on the Alawites after a long period of secrecy, at what they call "an important moment" in their history.

In the eight-page document, termed a "declaration of identity reform", the Alawites say they represent a third model "of and within Islam".

Those behind the text say Alawites are not members of a branch of Shia Islam - as they have been described in the past by Shia clerics - and that they are committed to "the fight against sectarian strife".

They also make clear that they adhere to "the values of equality, liberty and citizenship", and call for secularism to be the future of Syria, and a system of governance in which Islam, Christianity and all other religions are equal.

And despite Alawites having dominated Syria's government and security services under Mr Assad and his late father Hafez for more than four decades, they stress that the legitimacy of his regime "can only be considered according to the criteria of democracy and fundamental rights".

In other words, there is no constituency that wants Assad to remain.

Posted by at April 3, 2016 6:08 PM

  

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