By Marwa Osman (Lebanon), expert of the German Center for Eurasian Studies
Marking the 70th anniversary of the Syrian Independence Day from the French colonial power, nonprofit organization SOLIDALE, also named SOL.ID, organized a “Stand by Syria” conference against terrorism and imperial colonialism. To illuminate these matters, SOL.ID Belgium brought together renowned international experts for this conference on Sunday the 17th of April in the Belgian city Antwerp.
The participants agreed on the importance of the conference to show that reconciliation is happening all across the nation and how Syrians overcome the challenges of inhumane and hypocritical sanctions.
The conference also demonstrate how the Syrian youth is evolving the nation through culture, fashion and entertainment. And how religion is bringing Syrians together instead of tearing them apart by mobilizing their efforts to face the heinous war being waged against Syria with the aim of undermining the state and killing its people.
Several prominent guests participated in the event including a representative from the Syrian embassy Mr. Bassim Hanoun, consul-general of the Russian federation Mr. Evengy N. Egorov and from the Iraqi embassy counselor Mr. Muthana Alumayri. The attendees were a mix from Arab countries residing in Belgium and a vast number of Belgian citizens.
The event included speeches from a number of momentous speakers like Father Daniël Maes who leads the Mar Yakub Monastery close to Qara, Syria in which people of different ethnic and religious background have sought refuge. Father Maes spoke of his experience inside Syria before and after the war highlighting the devastation which the war brought upon the peaceful Syrian people.
Mother Agnes de la Croix who also leads the Mar Yakub Monastery close to Qara, Syria spoke to the attendees via Skype saying “when we were talking at the beginning of the Syrian crisis about the reality of what was happening inside Syria, our European friends did not believe. They told us that we are afraid to say the truth because we have a dictator. But we are religious and I am a nun who has lived her life in a monastery. I have no political choices. My choice is the truth and justice for the innocent and still no body believed us until they saw it with their own eyes.”
Also among the speakers was Sheikh Ali Abu Raya who is the current main preacher and scholar at the Imam Reda Islamic Center in Brussels (Centre Islamique Imam Reda). The Imam Reda Center was attacked in March 2012 when wahhabi terrorist Rachid El Boukhari drove a car straight into the prayer hall, killing Sheikh Abdellah Dahdouh. Sheikh Dahdouh was known for working actively on good relations with Christians and Sunnis alike. Sheikh Raya, who currently tries to fill the shoes of Sheikh Dahdouh, spoke about how the war in Syria has had a devastating impact on women. He said that the women are paying the price of war, terrorism and wahhabism. When women suffer, the entire society suffers, Sheikh Raya emphasized. He also stressed that the ideal way to stop this terrorism is by stopping the Gulf money that is being funneled into Syria to promote terrorism.
Father Paulus Sati, an Iraqi priest from the Chaldean Church gave an inspiring speech as well. Father Sato who manages the Chaldean community in Antwerp and who has been on the forefront of the cause of Christians in the Middle East said that terrorism will not cease to exist unless the extreme ideology behind it is dealt with quickly. He stressed that even if we eliminate Isis (Daesh), the ideology will produce more terrorists in the future. This is why we need religious men and women to stand together united to fight extremism, he said.
Representing the Secretary of the Council of Syrians in the Netherlands, Ms.Yvette Shamier emphasized that one of the main reasons behind the Syrian refugee crisis is the economic sanctions imposed on Syria which only affects the public. Ms. Shamier stated that we should work on stopping the sanctions so that the refugees could have a viable country to return to. Malik Samoel who is also the President of the Council of Syrians in the Netherlands (CSN) and official representative of all Syrian expats in the country spoke about the bravery of the Syrian Arab Army in the face of terrorism and interventionists.
Ms. Rima Darious who is a Syrian activist and member of the Syrian Youth Council also reiterated in her speech the importance of the work being done by the youth in Syria in trying to lift the societies they live in which have suffered a lot as a result of the war. Ms. Darious explained how the Syrian Youth Council has organized several cultural events and competitions inside Syria for four years in a row up to this year to promote steadfastness and peace.
Among the guests as well was Sheikh Hasanain al-Hachami who is a young Ja’fari Muslim scholar and preacher originally from Iraq. Sheikh al-Hachami spoke about how terrorists are falsely labeling themselves as Muslims when in reality they don’t resemble anything related to the real Islam of Prophet Mohammed (pbuh).
I thankfully also had a chance to give my thoughts on the fight Syria is waging against terrorism and imperial colonialism while being faced by the vilest enemies that roam the Earth, Wahhabi-inspired radicals who are supported by the US and its NATO and Gulf allies.
The conference represented the success of the peaceful ideology in the face of that of terrorism which has also recently struck several European cities showing that takfiris have no borders to stop them and that humanity as a whole is their enemy.
Bassim Hanoun with Organizer Ruben Rosiers