my response to a friend who thinks that assad-worship is part of the alawi religion: was saddam hussain’s regime ‘sunni’ when it murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent iraqis, particularly shia? no, it wasn’t – it was a saddamist regime which had nothing to do with religion but which exploited religion and ignorant sunnis for its own divide and rule purposes. is the bahraini regime ‘sunni’ when it denies democratic rights to its people? no – it’s using religious divisions to keep itself in power. same in syria. i know alawis who are working for the revolution – people like samar yazbek, rasha omran, and so many who are working in silence or in secret to deliver food and medicine to the besieged areas.

it’s true that sunni areas are being hit particularly hard, but there are also thousands of christians, alawis, and ismailis who have been tortured and murdered. I agree that this is a savage regime killing mainly sunnis. but we shouldn’t be helping assad, khamenei and nasrallah to make this a sectarian war.

that’s exactly what they want. why? because assadism has almost no supporters – but there are millions of shia in the world. if they are fooled into believing that the revolution is not one for freedom for all but a war for extermination of minorities, then they will fight to defend assad, we have to fight this discourse, however hard it is.

we also have to show the west – which until now has done everything it can to prevent the syrians defending themselves – that this is not a Muslim civil war, but a popular revolution. let’s not fall into assad’s trap. then, as a matter of plain fact, the alawi religion (i’m not alawi, but i have studied it) is certainly very very far from orthodox Islam, but it does not involve worship of the assad family.

this is a blasphemy against the alawi religion. it is also a fact that the alawi ulema have been assassinated, imprisoned and silenced over the last four decades by the assad regime. this is the problem. the assads have tried to kill the alawi religion and replace it with worship of the assads.

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