Thursday, September 24, 2015

Extensive piece about situation of Druze in Suwaida pre Bal'us assassination

Mazen Ezzi, editor of the Beirut-based Al Modon online newspaper and author of a series about the early days of the revolution in Suwaida, provides a full length analysis about the situation of the Druze community in Syria. The Arabic version has already been published in July, so the assassination of recently emerged Druze leader sheikh Wahid al-Bal'us (Abu Fahd) is not featured. Nevertheless, Ezzi provides some  interesting points especially regarding Bal'us and his "men/sheikhs of dignity" movement, making it more plausible why the regime might have perceived him as a threat.

The Druze of Suwayda: The Embers of Dissent
by Mazen Ezzi, Al-Jumhuriya English
(...)Al-Balaous accused the Syrian regime of betraying the Druze and then he continued, talking about al-Assad, “If he cannot protect us, we do not want him. We will go to the presidential palace to topple him down.”
A few days later, a statement by the three Sheikhs was issued, excommunicating al-Balaous and his followers on the background of “repeated breaches against religion and the ethics, and religious norms.” (....)
The “Committee of Muslim Unitarian Druze Scholars”, which is under the supervision of the “House of Worship and Culture” in Suwayda Governorate issued a statement refusing the Sheikhdom’s decision against Balaous and describing it as illegitimate religiously speking. The “Committee” stated that the decisions of the Sheikhdom are “quite similar. They have a patriotic appearance but in essence, they are politically profiteering. As for the religious factor, it does not play any role their formation.” The committee declared that it will not implement the excommunication decision, and called everyone not to implement this decision because the reason that incurred this punishment is political, not religious. It aggravated the situation when it declared that the Sheikhdom is not qualified to issue an excommunication because it is “not legitimate nor elected. It does not draw its legitimacy from the sect or its creed.” (...)
Sheikh Wahid Balaous called for religious reform and a council to regulate the affairs of the sect with elected sheikhs on the basis of religious rank and without intervention from others. This call to form a religious council to run the affairs of the sect surfaced for the first time after a great section of the religious body called for it in 1995. The regime, however, continuously refused it; approval was related to a special office that answers to the Presidency. The sect council takes some authority from the mundane side of the Sheikhs’. The Sheikh is left to follow up religious affairs and represents the sect with the government, as in Lebanon.
The remarkable fact about Dignity Sheikhs movement, led by Sheikh Wahid Balaous, is that it was not restricted to religious Druze, which indicates a return of active popular activity, against the will of the regime even though it is not directed completely against the regime itself. The fact that members of the National Defense Militia joined the Dignity Sheikhs movement indicated the strength and continuity of the Druze social contract despite the regime’s attempts to form other parallel bodies throughout the reign of the Baath regime. 
By the way in the same context I also recommend Aymenn Al-Tamimi's great work at Syria Comment on the newly established Druze militias including those affiliated with Bal'us.

No comments:

Post a Comment