International Affairs

Syria: A Call for Freedom

“Is everything ok, Jiddo (Grandpa)?”“Yes, Alhamdullilah (Praise be to God), everything is fine. We’re doing fine.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. There’s nothing here. We’re all doing fine. Send my greetings to everyone. Ma’asalama (Goodbye).”


AFP photo

Ask Syrian Americans about their conversations with relatives or friends back home and you’ll hear a similar story. Decades of brutal and repressive authoritarian rule have instilled and normalized a sense of dire fear amongst the Syrian people, so much so that they will deny blatant realities to preserve their safety and the safety of their relatives.

Last week, Jiddo was too upset to speak to us. His good friend’s son had been murdered by the regime’s brutal security forces and Assad’s personal militia (also known as the Shabeeha). Other neighbors were killed as well.  What pains me is that even if he wanted to describe to us what he was going through, we knew that there wasn’t much he could say to us over the phone.

Syrian security forces had surrounded my family’s town after cutting off electricity, phone, and water services.  They vandalized vehicles, destroyed personal property, and raided people’s homes, arresting hundreds of men and harassing their families.  The regime’s security forces also stole the bodies of the men killed earlier in the protests and refused to return them to their loved ones until they signed paperwork confirming that their dead kin were killed by “armed terrorists”.  Protesting towns across Syria have faced similar, if not, more atrocious fates: relentless and indiscriminate shelling, long-standing sieges, torture, and death.

It’s been more than three months now, and the numbers are a reminder of the growing humanitarian crisis in Syria.  More than 1,600 Syrians have been killed, and 15,000 detained. There are now more than 12,000 refugees in Turkey, and thousands more have escaped to Lebanon.

Many people questioned whether the “Arab Spring” would actually spread to Syria, but freedom is an attractive thing. And to think that the fire of the revolution in Syria was ignited by a group of schoolboys painting seemingly innocent graffiti on a wall!  On March 6th, 2011, in the southern farming town of Daraa, the young boys echoed the message of Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen:

Asha3b yureed isqaat al-nitham! The people want to topple the regime!

This act of innocent defiance led to their arrest by the local secret police and in keeping with Syria’s reputation as ‘torture capital’ of the world, the young boys were beaten, burned, and their fingernails pulled out before they were finally released to their families.  The Syrian people, seeing what can only be described as an open call to fear a blood-thirsty regime, erupted in protest.

On March 19th, Syria witnessed its first major protests across the country. Protestors were indiscriminately gunned down by the regime’s security forces as they peacefully rallied for basic freedoms of life, liberty, and justice. The next day, as protestors and loved ones marched in funeral processions mourning the victims, security forces opened fire again and killed scores of innocent civilians.  Even hospitals were unsafe, as injured protestors risked being arrested if they sought medical treatment.  This has been the reoccurring cycle for the past three months.

Still, the weekly protests have continued, growing larger with each passing week.

The Syrian regime has not discriminated in its violent aggression between adult and child or man and woman. As a matter of fact, children have been deliberately targeted: arrested, abducted, tortured, and killed.  One such example is Hamza AlKhatib, a 13 year old boy who has become a symbol of the pro-democracy movement.  He was detained by the regime’s security forces during a peaceful protest and taken to a prison facility where he was tortured and mutilated, then killed and returned to his parents. Tens of children have been killed by the regime, and it is unknown how many are currently in detention.

Syrians however, are no strangers to this type of bloody crackdown on peaceful opposition. The massacre of Hama is still fresh in their minds. In the early 1980s, under the leadership of Hafez Al-Assad, the Syrian army massacred an estimated 40,000 people in response to an uprising against the corrupt government. Most of the victims were civilians. The Hama massacre is considered to be “the single deadliest act by any Arab government against its own people in the modern Middle East.”
History seems to be repeating itself.

The regime has gone at great lengths to stop the revolution.  Many Syrians have been forced to attend pro-regime rallies. As a government worker, a relative was forced to attend a pro-government rally in her town; otherwise she risked losing her job and the safety of her family. Many Syrian expatriates have reported being photographed and surveilled while attending peaceful rallies in support of the revolution, only to be threatened with the safety of their families back in Syria. Syrians in London received phone calls and visits to their homes by regime agents in the UK.

The Syrian news networks have become notorious for fabricating and denying the truth of events. In the midst of this crisis, many people have found humor in watching Syrian news networks, and comparing their lies to reports from other media networks and to the videos captured by Syrians on the ground.  Perhaps, what is more unbelievable is the Syrian government’s continuous denial of their role in the violence.

The regime’s tyrannical crackdown has only fueled the people’s resolve for a free Syria. The revolution has become increasingly organized. After more than 40 years of living under ruthless military rule, courageous Syrians have made their voices heard:

Asha3b yureed isqaat al-nitham! The people want to topple the regime!

It is only a matter of time before the dictatorship will come to an end.

There is no turning back.

How You Can Help:

1. Make du`a’. Du`a’ is the strength of the believer.

And do not think that God is unaware of what the evildoers are doing: He but grants them respite until the Day when their eyes will stare in horror (Qur’an, 14:42)

2. Spread the word. Educate others. Share articles and videos online through Facebook and Twitter. Write op-eds and letters to local and national newspapers.

3. Act locally but think globally. Contact your local representatives and tell them to support democracy in Syria and to call for the resignation of Assad’s murderous regime.

4. Show your support. Attend solidarity protests. Support news media that is providing coverage of Syria.  Thank them for their coverage.

5. Translate. Help translate the latest Arabic news updates on Facebook, Twitter, and other online sources.

6. Donate to help the refugees.


Read more about the latest developments in Syria here and here.


*This piece has been published anonymously for the safety of the author’s relatives.


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  • May Allah DESTROY this blood thirsty, oppressive regime, and replace it with just, righteous rulers and give ease, victory and comfort to Jiddo and all of those suffering there and everywhere and accept the dead as martyrs in Firdose al Alaa. Ameen. Ameen. Ameen.

  • Thank you for this article. Spreading the word is very important, as the prophet peace be upon him taught us:

    The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “Whoever among you sees an evil action, then let him change it with his hand [by taking action]; if he cannot, then with his tongue [by speaking out]; and if he cannot, then with his heart – and that is the weakest of faith.”

    [Sahih Muslim]

  • who in his right mind can support this protests which is causing to much bloodshed and deaths, killing innocents and doing mischief on the land?! let’s be clear: the government forces are reacting in this way because the people want to change the things by force! so they have what they deserve also allah states in His book that He will no change the people’s situations till the change what is within themself!.

    the heads of theses movements don’t want the shari’ah the want the kufr way and are lying to the common people who maybe are sincere.

    This show the ignorance of the ummah and their abandonment of the sunnah as our beloved Prophet saws said in a authentic hadeeth.

    An authentic example worthy of mention it every time is Imam ahmad’s fitnah with his ruler, that ruler was oppressor in many ways even worse than this Assad and he didn’t REBELLED towards him even when such ruler said that the qur’an was create, wa la hawla wa la quwatta allah billah.

    May Allah rectify our affairs and direct us to the authentic methodology of Islam.

    Wa as salam alaykum

  • I believe that 40 years was enough for any society to try to generate change and social justice through peaceful, diplomatic means. Its about time for a revolution Amatullah. Read past the shallow messages of the government-controlled media.

  • AA Sis. Amatullah,

    Do you think Sh. Muhammad Al Ya’qoubi should’ve been fired from his post for speaking out against the “oppressive, ALAWITE (not even Islamic for goodness sake)” government?

    Didn’t the Prophet (SAW) say “The best Jihad is one speaks the word of truth in the face of an oppressive ruler?
    أفضل الجهاد من قال كلمة حق عند سلطان جائر

    Here’s an example you forgot. Let’s take the example of Imam Al-A’tham Abu Hanifa when he supported Zaid Bin Ali’s revolt against the Umayyads. He was active in his support against corrupt rulers.

    Should we not be? Should we not at the very least speak a word of truth to governments who are turning their guns on innocent people? How could someone with “good conscious” say that this is what “they deserve”? Have a bit of sympathy and pray for our bros. and sis.

    It’s easy for us in the west to sit comfortably in our air conditioned homes to criticize our bros. and sis. who’ve been living under decades of poverty, illiteracy, oppression, and discrimination.

  • except for the democracy part.. the article is fine..
    how can we as Muslims ever believe in democracy.. we should endeavour to bring Shariah Rule not man-made rule as in democracy..

    Allah swt says:
    “Whosoever does not judge by that which Allah has revealed, such are disbelievers.”
    [TMQ Al-Ma’idah: 44]

    “But no, by Your Lord, they can have no (real) faith until they make you judge in
    all disputes between them and find in their souls no resistance against your decisions,
    but accept them with the fullest submission.”
    [TMQ An-Nisa: 65]

  • May God/Alla help the people of Syria! I am ashamed of the United States of America and the west for not being supportive, as John McCain said, “How many need to die?” To miss an opportunity like this and not support the people of Syria is wrong. Let it be known many Americans are with the people of Syria in time of need and the blood of the people are on the hands of Assan and his days are numbered and he nned to look at the former President of Libya to know the rapture is upon him by the people he has killed! Freedom, Liberty and Justice is a common right of all people of this planet!

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