Syrian minorities present united front in toppling regime

Syrian minority activists stood united in their opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime on Sunday at the Nahda Network’s summit in Turkey’s Bursa province.
The pro-democracy group Young Civilians’ (Genç Siviller) initiative Nahda Network, an online platform on the Middle East, offered Turkish and foreign journalists the opportunity to hear what it is going on in Syria from the Syrian journalists and activists themselves. But the revolution to topple Assad’s totalitarian and oppressive regime, the Syrian activists and journalists agreed, has reconnected Syrians from different religions and ethnic groups in their aspirations for a new, democratic Syria.

Osama Edward Mousa, a Syriac Christian activist from Syria, said during Sunday’s panel on Syrian minorities there are only two sects in Syria: those who are pro-Assad and those who are anti-Assad. “There is no clear division among ethnic and religious groups on either side,” said Mousa of what he calls exaggerated claims of in-fighting and division among different groups.

Mousa, who left Syria in 2010 under pressure from the authorities, rejected the “fact” that Christian Syrians are not on the front lines of the revolution. “Are Christians playing a key role in the Syrian revolution? I say yes, we are and we will,” he said. “We have been fighting side-by-side with the Kurds since April 1, 2011,” he asserted. Activists agreed they have never felt more like Syrians than during the revolution aiming to oust Assad and crush his oppressive regime.

“I read that Syrians living in border towns associate themselves more with these neighboring countries than their own,” Mousa told Today’s Zaman. “After 40 years of oppression, Syrians have sought other homelands in their hearts and minds.”

Mousa, who has never owned a Syrian national flag and refused to sing the national anthem in school, said he is no exception. “The revolution has made me feel like I belong to Syria,” he said.

Kurdish Syrian activist Jamshid Hussein, who echoed Mousa in his call for independence for all Syrians, said: “I am 30 years old, and for the first time I understand Syria is important to me. The Syrian revolution has made me feel this more.”

Along with other activists, Mousa acknowledged the revolution has not been perfect and pointed to some of the incidents of ethnic and religious in-fighting. “We are not trying to paint a beautiful picture of the revolution. Of course there has been some in-fighting, but we must look at the overwhelming spirit and reality of unity,” he said.

Syrian activist Midia Daghistani said during the panel: “When we overturn this regime, there will be no segregation or separation. Only Syrians who have dipped their hands in the blood of innocent Syrians will be excluded.”