In an unusual move, leaders of Syria’s Alawite sect in Syria have released a document in which they distance themselves from the Assad regime and describe the kind of future they wish for the country.
The eight-page long document, which was obtained by the BBC, is titled a “declaration of identity reform” and says the Alawites represent a third model “of and within Islam.”
Those behind the text said 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 made clear that they adhere to “the values of equality, liberty and citizenship”, and called for secularism to be the future of Syria, and a system of governance in which Islam, Christianity and all other religions are equal.
In the document published on Sunday, the Alawite leaders stressed that the legitimacy of the Assad regime “can only be considered according to the criteria of democracy and fundamental rights.”
Speaking on condition of anonymity, two of the leading Syrian Alawites behind the document told the BBC that “they were keen to make this statement of identity as many Alawites were being killed because of their faith.”
They wanted to make clear, they said, that members of all Islamic sects in Syria were “brothers and sisters” – and that the Alawites “should not be associated with the crimes the regime has committed.”
The Alawite leaders added that the future of Syria now lay in the hands of the international community.
Those behind the document said that they hoped it would “liberate” the Alawite community, and that their “declaration of identity reform” would cut “the umbilical cord” between the Alawites and the Assad regime.
The Alawites, they pointed out, existed before the Assad regime, “and will exist after it.” (Source: Syrian Coalition)