‘We were living in security and peace. These areas are being targeted, they want to force us to leave. Every Syrian is being targeted,’ one Syrian religious leader told a delegation of reporters who visited Aleppo earlier this month.
by Eva Bartlett
Part 9 - Aleppo’s religious leaders defy divisiveness
Inside his church, a new structure built about a year ago to replace the historic church destroyed by terrorists in years prior, Rev. Nseir introduced three Sunni leaders from the city: Dr. Rami Obeid, Dr. Rabih Kukeh, Sheikh Ahmed Ghazeli.
“These Sunni leaders are considered ‘infidels’ by al-Nusra and company,” Nseir said, explaining that they don’t follow the distorted Wahhabi ideology guiding the Western-backed terrorist factions like the Nusra Front and others which had been deemed “moderate rebels” and “opposition forces.”
Before turning the floor over to these religious leaders, Rev. Nseir noted:
“When the church was destroyed, the first person to call me was Mufti Hassoun, who told me, ‘Don’t worry, reverend, we’ll rebuild the church.’”
Dr. Kukeh spoke generally on the multi-denominational culture of Syria:
“The mosaic we are living in Syria is incomparable to any way of living all over the world. Christians and Muslims, Sunnis and Shiites. There is no discrimination based on religion or sect. The propaganda spread throughout the media have no roots here.”
In regards to the terrorists who portray themselves as freedom-fighting jihadists, Dr. Kukeh said:
“Those who are killing the Sunnis are the same who claim that they are defending the Sunnis. The shells that hit us daily are sent by them.”
He named six Sunni sheikhs in Syria, most in Aleppo, who were assassinated by terrorists for not joining them. One of them, Sheikh Abdel Latif al-Shami, was tortured to death in July 2012.
Dr. Kukeh, who said he named his oldest son after the former Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, “because I love that man,” explained that in 2012 he was living in eastern Aleppo when terrorists began to occupy districts there. He was targeted for assassination because he did not agree with the terrorists’ ideologies.
He said he was convicted of charges related to his writing for a local publication, his son’s name, and a lack of anti-government demonstrations emanating from his mosque. Those demonstrations never occurred, he said, because he never encouraged them like other Wahhabi sheikhs did elsewhere.
The conversation drifted from the source of terrorism in Syria, Wahhabism, and its distorted, un-Islamic nature, to the unity I’ve heard Syrians all over speak of. One of the sheikhs, his name lost in a flutter of voices, repeated what’s become a familiar sentiment among Syrian civilians and soldiers:
“Aleppo is one, Syria is one. We reject the division of Aleppo, we reject the division of Syria.”