On March 23, thousands of Syrians carried the coffin of the leading Syrian Sunni scholar Shaykh Mohammad Saeed Ramadan al-Bouti, who had been killed in a terrorist attack in the Mosque Al Iman in Damascus along with his grandson and other 47 people.
Gran Mufti Ahmad Badr Addine Hassoun, whose son was also killed by terrorists several months ago, and Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi also took part in the funeral.
The attack was not only an atrocious crime but also a blasphemous act. It took place when Shaykh al-Bouti was giving a religious speech to a group of Islam students, including his grandson. Al-Bouti, 84, was a retired dean and a professor at the College of Islamic Law at Damascus University and a worldwide reputed scholar.
Following the deadly incident, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad condemned the act of violence, pledging that the crime would not pass without punishment. “A promise from the Syrian people — and I am one of them — that your blood, your grandson and the martyrs of today and all the homeland will not go in vain, because we will stay following your thinking to eliminate their darkness,” he said.
Shaykh Al-Bouti was known for his anti-terrorism stances and his criticism of foreign-backed militant groups, whom he described as “mercenaries.” The previous week to his assassination, the late scholar said during his lecture, “We are invaded in every inch of our land, in our bread, in our lives, women, children sanctities and honor. We are today in front of a legitimate duty…which is the need for mobilization to protect the values, the homeland and the holy sites, and there is no difference, in this case, between the army and the rest of this nation,” he stated.
One week after Al-Bouti’s murder, another Sunni cleric, Shaykh Hassan Saif al-Deen, 80, was brutally beheaded in northern city of Aleppo by foreign-backed militants, who reportedly decapitated him before dragging his lifeless body on the streets. They also planted his head on the minaret of the mosque where he used to preach. Shaykh Saif al Deen also had anti-militant views and spoke out against the ongoing war against the Syrian government.
In a Facebook page of militants, he was called “a collaborator of the chique in power in Syria” and threatened, “We will come to you; you will not escape.”
Shaykh Hassan Saif al-Deen was in fact the last of a list of murdered religious scholars, which includes Sunni and Shia Muslim clerics as well as Christian priests. All these murders have been carried out by bloodthirsty terrorists, who are described as “democrats” by Western governments and media.
The first of these victims was father Basilius Nassar, the priest of the Mar Elias Chapel in the town of Kfar-Baham, near the city of Hama. He was shot on January 25, 2012 by a militiaman sniper in the Citadel area while he was picking a casualty.
The second was a Sunni cleric, Shaykh Mohammad Ahmad Aof Sadek, who preached in the mosque Anas Ben Malek in Damascus. He was one of the first scholars who warned against violence in Syria. He also spoke out against the Takfiri groups saying that they had no place among the Muslims. He was shot on February 25, 2012.
Third on the list was Shaykh Sayyed Nasser, an Alawite cleric and the imam of the Alawite hawze (religious school) Zaynabiyya in Damascus. He died by a gunshot in the face near the Shrine of Sayeda Zaynab, the granddaughter of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The fourth was a Syrian Shiite cleric, Shaykh Abbas Lahham, killed in May outside the mosque of Rouqayya (PBUH) (daughter of Imam Hussein), where he preached. He was followed by Shaykh Abdel-Koddous Jabbarah, another Shiite scholar, the following month. The latter was shot at the market, near the Shrine of Sayyeda Zaynab.
In July 2012, at the beginning of the month of Ramadan, it was Shaykh Abdel-Latif Ash-Shami who was shot and killed in an atrocious manner: during the prayers in a mosque full of faithful by a rifle shot in the eye. A month later, the imam of the mosque al-Nawawi in Damascus, Shaykh Hassan Bartaoui, was murdered as well.
In October 2012, some people found the mutilated corpse of a priest of the Greek Orthodox Church, father Fadi Hadadat, at Katana, in the province of Damascus. He had been kidnapped by militiamen who demanded in exchange for his release a ransom of 15 million Syrian pounds. Patriarch Abdallah Saleh of Antioch and Orient of the Greek Orthodox Church confirmed that he had been murdered by terrorists. In the last day of 2012, another Sunni Imam, Shaykh Abdullah Saleh, was assassinated in Raqa.
In February 2012, Shaykh Abdel-Latif al-Jamili, a cleric of the Achrafiyye Mosque, was killed by shrapnel launched by militiamen in the courtyard of his mosque. In March, it was Sheikh Abed Saab, who led the prayers in the mosque al-Mohammadi, located in the district of Mazze in Damascus, who was killed by an explosive device placed under his car.
It is worth pointing out that all these crimes were actually encouraged by some extremist Wahhabi scholars from Saudi Arabia. One of them, Shaykh Abu Basir al-Tartousi, said he did not regret the death of Skahykh al-Bouti. “He was a liar, who all his life supported the rulers,” UmmaNews quoted him as saying. He hypocritically added that he regretted that “other Muslims had been wounded or killed.”
The Imam of Masjid from the mosque al-Haram in Mecca, Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, openly celebrated the assassination, “He (al-Bouti) was one of the biggest imams of delusion. He was a Mujahid on Satan’s path. And this (the murder of al-Bouti) is a great joy for Muslims,” he wrote on its Facebook site.
Reign of terror
In reality, all the killed clerics were openly hostile to the rebellion or at least did not support it. Their assassinations were intended to terrorize the Syrian population who refuses to support the armed groups. This point becomes clear when someone reads the statements by the terrorists themselves.
Shortly before the attack on the Faculty of Architecture of Damascus University, which killed 15 students, the leader of the Wahhabi group, Liwa al Islam, Haytham Al Maleh, published a statement on his page of Facebook, where he warned that “it is compulsory for the students from the University of Damascus to launch a campaign of civil disobedience. If they do not do so, their University will have the same fate as that of Aleppo.” It should be recalled that in the month of January, 82 students of the University of Aleppo were killed and 160 others were injured by rockets launched by militiamen.
Entire religious groups (Christians, Shiites, Alawites) have been declared as “enemies” by Takfiri Wahhabi terrorists in Syria. Some Shiites, for example, have had to flee their homes in order to save their lives. One of them, Jamal, told LA Times that “these people used to be our neighbors. Now they want to kidnap and kill us.”
Interfaith tensions, which were unknown before the conflict started, are now increasing in the villages along the border between northeastern Lebanon and Syria. People living in these areas speak of an ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by rebels who are trying to set up a Taliban-style state. Some Shiites, who have family ties to Lebanon, have become fighters in order to defend their villages from the terrorists´ attacks. Shells fired by armed groups often land in some of these villages.
Rebels in Syria have also burned and looted the religious sites of minorities, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said in January. HRW revealed that opposition fighters had destroyed a Shiite husseiniya – a religious site devoted to Imam Hussein (PBUH), a great martyr in the Muslim history. A video published online showed rebels hoisting assault rifles in the air and cheering as the site in the village of Zarzour, taken by rebels in December, burned in the background. In the video, one man announces the “destruction of the dens of the Shiites and Rafida,” a derogatory term used against Shiites by Wahhabi fanatics.
In the western Latakia province, Human Rights Watch quoted residents as saying that gunmen acting in the name of the opposition had broken into and stolen from Christian churches in two villages; Ghasaniyeh and Jdeideh (in the region of Lattakia). A resident in Jdeideh reported that gunmen had broken into the local church, stolen and fired shots inside.
Therefore, a reign of terror has been implemented in all the places that the Syrian and foreign armed groups control in Syria. Due to their incapacity to trigger a popular revolution against the government, these groups have resorted to massacres and murders. This explains why local residents flee their homes when their village or street fall under their control, or increasingly join the National Defense forces fighting the terrorists throughout the country.