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July 03, 2006



Freedom for Aref, hopefully he will get better outside the prison soon, and thanks for bringing up the issue Ammar

ghassan karam

Its a bankrupt regime of human rights abusers. When the time comes, and it will, to hold the regime accountable for its unjust and criminal acts the Chinese proverb that " A fish smells from its head" must be applied.

Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur

I am sad to hear that. Men like these deserve better.


Are you sure about ur sources?

because, I have tried mailing people in the family, I still havent got any reply, but if such thing is true, I think it wouldve blown out by now.


The source is pretty close Yaman. Aref has been sick for a while now, and he has a history of blood clotting, denying him medical attention at this stage, could result in a stroke.


Upon further inquiry, this is what my source has to say:

"Dr. Dalilah’s health is getting worse and his walk is very slow and… his left leg and his left arm are not normal, he moved them hardly… [I]n [a] former visit, his face was yellow and his eyes were red and he was very tired… he has been vomiting for two days.”

Indeed, some family members are “afraid that the cause of vomiting is not the dirty food but from frozen blood (blood clot) in his brain… doctors at prison order[ed] for a photo [brain scan] to his brain but they did not photo his brain till now.”

Family members are worried “because he is [an] old man and in the past there was a frozen blood (blood clot) in his leg. This man needs help quickly, his health is getting worse day after day and he is too old. How long he will live any more!!!"


Who is Aref Dalila and what did he do to be in Jail and what is his contribution to Syria ,excuse my ignorance.



Aref Dalilah is one of those cases where you just wonder if there is any logical reason why he should be in jail ...



Thanks Alex ,I agree.Asad should take this opportionity to pardon him .


Seriously now..

We're not asking ur precious Assad for a gift, this guy belongs in research centers, in the cabinet.

Just a small fact, few months before his arrest, Assad held a meeting with prof. Dalileh, and "told" him how much respect he holds for him, and how much he "could" do for the country.

for gad sake even in the days of the brutal bloody regime of Hafez he was the Dean of the economics faculty in Aleppo Univ.

What is "Occupation"

Let's face facts...

Anyone within the "arab" family that speaks of living as equals with christians, jews and non-believers as equals will be branded as a "zionist" traitor..

Yes such a terrible thing.... to be a zionist...

Before Islam was a twinkle in old Mo's father's eye, Zionism was in Kingdom of Israel....

I do not see much hope for the syrian equation as long as it eat's it's own best and brightest, the international community will never save you, if syrians wish to have a pluralistic, respectful open society, they will need to use certain unnamed tools to overthrow the current party in power and also not allow the islamists to replace assad either...

this being said, all intelligent, loving, nice, decent syrians please come to the usa as your country is not safe for you....

Anton Efendi

The answer may in fact be because Dalilah is Alawite. He's to be made an example of. It's a similar story to that of Fateh Jamous as well.

What is "Occupation"


The origin of the Alawites is disputed. According to some sources, they were originally Nusayrīya, a sect that broke ties with Twelver Shiites in the 9th century. The Alawites trace their origins to the eleventh Shia Imam, Hasan al Askari (d.873), and his pupil Ibn Nusayr (d.868). Ibn Nusayr proclaimed himself the Bāb "Door" (representative) of the 11th Imam. The sect seems to have been organised by a follower of Ibn Nusayr's known as al-Khasibi who died in Aleppo in about 969. Al-Khasibi's grandson al-Tabarani moved to Latakia on the Syrian coast. There he refined the Nusayrī religion and, with his pupils, converted much of the local population.
In the 10th century, Alawites were established during the Hamdanid dynasty of Aleppo, but they were driven out when the dynasty fell in 1004. In 1097, Crusaders initially attacked them, but later allied with them against the Ismailis. In 1120, the Alawites were defeated by the Ismailis and Kurds, but three years later, they fought the Kurds successfully. In 1297, the Ismailiyya and ʕAlawiyya tried to negotiate a merger, but it came to nothing.
Alawites were actively persecuted under Mamlūk rule from 1260 onwards. When the Ottoman Empire took control of Syria in 1516, the Turks are said to have killed over 90,000 Alawites. Afterwards, the ʕAlawiyya were regarded as outcasts and the empire sent Turks to settle their lands. Reportedly, some of the Turks converted to become Alawites. After Alawites attacked the Ismaili village of Masyaf in 1832, the Pasha of Damascus sent troops against them.
Today Alawites exist as a minority but politically powerful, religious sect in Syria. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Syria and Lebanon came under French mandate. The French gave autonomy to Alawites and other minority groups and accepted Alawites into their colonial troops. Under the mandate, many Alawite chieftains supported the notion of a separate Alawite nation and tried to convert their autonomy into independence. A territory of "Alaouites" was created in 1925. In May 1930, the Government of Latakia was created; it lasted until 28 February 1937 when it was incorporated into Syria.
In 1939, a portion of northwest Syria, the Sanjak of Alexandretta, now Hatay, that contained a large number of Alawites, was given to Turkey by the French, greatly angering the Alawite community and Syrians in general. Zaki al-Arsuzi, the young Alawite leader from Antioch in Iskandarun (later named the Hatay by the Turks) who led the resistance to the annexation of his province to the Turks, later became a founder of the Ba'ath Party along with the Eastern Orthodox Christian schoolteacher Michel Aflaq. After World War II, when the Alawite provinces were united with Syria, Alawite followers of Sulayman al-Murshid tried to resist integration. He was captured and hanged by the newly independent Syrian government in Damascus in 1946.
Syria became independent on April 16, 1946. Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War over Palestine, Syria endured a succession of military coups in 1949, the rise of the Ba'th Party, and unification of the country with Egypt in the United Arab Republic in 1958. The UAR lasted for three years and broke apart in 1961, when a secretive military committee, which included a number of disgruntled Alawite officers, including Hafez al-Assad and Salah Jadid, helped the Ba'th Party take power in 1963. In 1966, Alawite-oriented military officers successfully rebelled and expelled the old Ba'ath that had looked to Michel Aflaq and (Sunni Muslim) Salah al-Din al-Bitar for leadership. They promoted Zaki al-Arsuzi as the "Socrates" of their reconstituted Ba'ath Party.
In 1970, then-Air Force Colonel Hafez al-Assad took power and instigated a "correctionist movement" in the Ba'ath Party. In 1971, al-Assad became president of Syria, a function that the Constitution only allows a Muslim to embrace. Thence, in 1974, Imam Musa Sadr, leader of Twelver Shi'ites of Lebanon and founder of the Amal Movement, was asked to proclaim that he accepted the Alawites as real Muslims. Most Muslim authorities – both Sunni and Shiite – still don't recognize them as Muslims (similar to how many Protestants and Catholics don't consider Mormons to be Christian). Under the dictatorial but secular Assad regime, religious minorities are tolerated, although during the Hama Massacre in 1982, perhaps 20,000 predominantly Sunnis were killed, after an uprising led by the Muslim Brotherhood.
After the death of Hafez al-Assad in 2000, his son Bashar al-Assad maintained the outlines of his father's regime. Although Alawites predominate among the top military and intelligence offices, the civilian government and national economy is largely led by Sunnis, who represent about 75% of Syria's population. The Assad regime is careful to allow all of the religious sects a share of power and influence in the government, but there is clear Alawite domination of the highest levels of power. However, this seems to have more to do with keeping power within the Assad family and clan network than with religion.

Theologically, Alawites today claim to be Twelver Shi'ites, but traditionally they have been designated as "extremists" (Arabic: غلاة ghulat) and outside the bounds of Islam by the Muslim mainstream for their high level of devotion to Ali ibn Abi Talib. They have only one holy book, the Qur'an, but insist that without knowledge of the family of Muhammad, the Qur'an cannot be properly interpreted. Alawites study the book of Jafār as-Sādaq (Al-Hayfat aš-Šarīf), which has been translated into French and printed. This was done in Beirut in the mid-nineteenth century by an Alawite convert to Christianity, who was later killed by a fellow Alawite for exposing a secret sacred book.
The Alawite religion has many similarities to Isma'ilism. ʕAlawiyya believe ʕAlī is the true Successor of Muhammad as well as in esoteric reading of the Qur'an. Unlike Ismailis, Alawites regard ʕAlī as the purpose of life and the divine knowledge of the prophet Muhammad. The Alawite catechism is expressed in the formula:
I turn to the door of knowledge.
In order for the father to provide me with a key;
Thus receiving the reward which is the knowledge of ʕAlī.
An Alawite prays in a manner patterned after the shahada:
I testify that there is no god but God; Muhammad is his messenger and ʕAlī ibn Abi Talib is his wali "protector/ally".
It has also been reported [1] that they will proclaim "There is no god but ʕAlī ibn Abū Talib", and that ʕAlawī created Muhammad. ʕAlī is an incarnation or avatar of God.
Each World Age, of which there are Seven in total, has an incarnation of God within it. Ali is the last incarnation for the last age. Each world age thus has a person who is the base (asa) and one who is the utterer (natiq). The asas are Abel, Seth, Joseph, Joshua, Asaph, and possibly Peter and then Ali. The natiqs are Adam, Noah, Jacob, Moses, Solomon, Christ, and Muhammad. The true prophet of the set will disappear and leave a deputy behind who will administer for him until he returns. This is similar to occultation.
Ali, Muhammad, and a third entity, Salman the Persian are important to the faith. Respectively, they are called the Idea, the Name, and the Door (to god). In Sura 6 of the Mujma', one of their texts, it is stated, "I make for the Door, I prostrate myself before the Name, I worship the Idea.
ʕAlawites do not accept converts or openly publish their texts, which are passed down from scholar to scholar. The vast majority of Alawites know little about the contents of their sacred texts or theology, which are guarded by a small class of male initiates. For Initiation, a person must be at least 15 and cannot be a non-Alawite. They believe in metempsychosis; the soul of the pious ascends to the starry heavens via a series of transformations. The less pious souls require more transformations.
There are at least four sects within ʕAlawiyya. The Ghaybiyya believe that the occulted one or the absent one is the true God and associate this absence with the sky and air. The Šamaliyya identify ʕAlī, Muhammad and Salman with Heaven, the Sun and the Moon. The Kalaziyya, contarily, hold that the Moon is the abode of ʕAlī, not the Sun, and that by drinking wine, one reaches closer communion with the Moon. This is not at all dissimilar to the vedic concept of Soma, a divine beverage associated with the Moon. The identification of wine with ʕAlī in sacred and secret feast [2] lead some to erroneously think that the Alawites were crypto-christians. A fourth sect are the Haydariyya.
Because only one book has been translated, outsiders know little about Alawite theology. Hanna Batatu's last book has a short but reliable section on Alawite doctrine, theology, and recent debates within the community. How sincere is this rejection of bidʕa "innovation"? There is no way to tell, but it has a long tradition within the community. The French tried to pressure leading Alawite Shaykhs to declare ʕAlawiyya a separate, non-Muslim religion during the early 1920s, but they lost their battle because many religious leaders refused to do so. After all, Alawites declare themselves to be Muslims in their catechism and believe that Muhammad is God's messenger.
The Alawite religion seems to be based on Gnosticism and Neo-Platonism. According to Alawite belief, all persons at first were stars in the world of light, but fell from the firmament through the passion of jealousy. The material world is a place of danger, enemies and impurity. The essential evil of this present existence can be escaped by the help of the divine creator. Every Alawite has within his soul a bit of the light of the divine creator, which can be accessed and lead him on the right path and salvation. Faithful Alawites believe that all who put forth towards their soul shall receive their due reward from God. Alawites believe that their rewards are not financial gain or property, but true knowledge of the prophets of God. They also believe infidels are reborn as animals.
Because of the highly syncretistic nature of the religion, scholars have claimed that Alawism is related to Christianity because they have a strong love for Jesus and the previous prophets, but Alawites say that all the prophets were Muslims and that knowledge is like the sea, it never ends. Alawites also study the writings of Aristotle, Socrates, and Alexander the Great.
Alawites try to follow the prime example left by ʕAlī. ʕAlī lived out of the eye of the public. Like ʕAlī, the Alawites are too called names and rejected by the common, like ʕAlī, Alawites also keep to themselves, and like ʕAlī, they say that they too "worship God in private and not for show".
Although Alawites recognize the five pillars of Islam, they do not believe that anyone has the privilege of practising them because they are too pure to be performed by "any" soul. Alawites believe that there is no back door entrance to the gates of heaven (i.e. follow the five pillars and you receive the keys to heaven). Instead they believe that one should devote his life the way that the prophet Muhammed would have permitted by following the example of ʕAlī.
The insistence on conformism has brought rich political rewards – Alawites enjoy all the rights of Muslims in Syria and can hold the office of President, which must be filled by a Muslim according to the constitution. Nevertheless, Alawites have paid a steep price for political success and for a share of political power and equality in the nation.
Alawites who have speculated on the success are considerably more optimistic about the percentage of Syrians who considered them Muslim than are their Druze counterparts. Several claim that 50% of Syrians or more accepted them as Muslims. The reason Alawites give for their success is that they try harder than the Druze to be like Sunni Muslims and to assimilate to the textbook version of Islam. One native of Latakia, an ʕAlawī woman who is in her thirties with an advanced degree, gave the following explanation:
We are accepted as Muslims because we have worked hard to be accepted. Some Alawis cover their hair and wear hijab, either for personal reasons or for humbleness to Allah. We don't eat ham. We fast – we don't eat during Ramadan. We have built mosques in our major towns. But we believe that praying at home for one's own soul, not for show, is what Allah deems pure. Many Muslims go to mosques to show that they pray, whereas Alawites know that God knows their true intentions, and it is more pure to talk to Allah personally. Though many Alawis go to Friday prayer and to the Hajj. My grandfather was a modern shaykh who encouraged everyone to pray at the mosque in Jable. The charitable foundation established and run by Jamil al-Assad (the brother of former President Hafez al-Assad) finances hundreds of Alawis to go on Hajj, and the women working for the organization wear the hijab. Hafez al-Assad prayed in a mosque and fasted always. When his mother and son died, he prayed for them in a mosque. He built the Naˤisa Mosque in Qardaha, his hometown, in the name of his mother. All these things are proof to the doubters that we try hard to be part of Islam. They accept it. We have succeeded, God willing.
The introduction of the state school system into the Alawite region during the last fifty years has transformed the religious identity of Alawites. Today, most Alawites know only the tenets of Sunni Islam because they are taught them in mandatory religion classes from first grade through twelfth grade. Syrian school texts do not mention the word Alawite, nor do they refer to diversity of belief and practice in Islam. Although Alawites know they are different from Sunnis, they don't know exactly how. Most will tell you about the popular religious ceremonies their families engage in, which include annual visits to saints' shrines, the sacrificing of sheep, and wearing of talismans.
Evidently, the Assads go to great lengths to make sure that the different tribes are equally represented in top military posts, just as they try to divvy out government posts among the various religious and ethnic groups of Syria.



Anton Efendi,

I agree with your analysis. An Allawite opposition is the real Achilles Heel of the regime.

If Allawite solidarity is broken, then elements of the army could be converted to the opposition and the whole edifice on which the regime rests will crumble.

Note that an Allawite insurgency could be the best scenario for the country as it might avoid a bitter civil war between the armed minority and the angry majority. It will allow many powerful poeple to maintain some of their privileges thus allowing a transitional period to a real democracy.



I think many of them often complain (just like the rest of Syrians), but most of them won't go all the way in opposing the regime. Some intellectuals might be the exception.


lack of faith in the opposition and their plans for Syria and their commitment to human rights and equality between the Syrian is a major reason for lack of support for regime change in Syria.



It is good that you are publicising the plight of Dr Dalilah's situation. If we really care about him and what he stands for, we should take action. Your post (with some minor editing) should be e-mailed to international newspapers around the world. What do you think?


With this structure you have mentioned, do you think that they cannot afford sharing government with others?
Or to put the question in another way, what could happen if they share the government with others?!


Power sharing should be the name from now on, of we really want a peaceful way out of this quagmire. Had the Assads been more amiable to such ideas, things would have been much better. But, it seems, our job is going to be much harder. So be it. No use moping. Indeed, we can and should send something to international newspapers about Aref's situation and the current crackdown.



I am not an expert in such matters and probably Goerge Ajjan can comment here.

I suspect that the best way to give the story some legs is to write a full background on Aref, probably emphasizing the possible split in the Allawi community and then send the full package to newspapers.

In other words we have the chew the food for them, and provide with angles to make the story interesting.

George Ajjan


You are on the right track, but if I may suggest: the last thing newspapers want to receive is the "full package" on someone they've never heard of. You need to start with a standard format press release that fits on one page. And delivers one message at a time.

A good press release is written in the hopes that it will be printed exactly as is - of course it never will, but that is where you aim. As you said, "chew the food for them".

I advise you to avoid superfluous regime bashing, because if your agenda is too transparent, you may appear unsophisticated and that can diminish your credibility.

contact details in the header

Press Release Title in bold
sub-header (one line) just below

Paragraph 1 introduces the situation.

Paragraph 2 gives some details and includes a quote from a key player.

Paragraph 3 contains a bit more of historical and personal background.

Paragraph 4 summarizes, and possibly includes another quote (hopefully from somebody like Joshua Landis since he's a respected analyst that the reporters have quoted before).

Remember, newspaper editors and reporters lead a hectic life. They'd probably love to learn all the details about Aref, but their boss yelling at them to meet today's deadline probably takes precedence. Your job is to make them care passionately about someone they've never heard of before. So don't overload them with the "full package". Once they've taken the bait (your press release), then they will ask you to send them more detailed information.

If you create a draft press release on behalf of Aref, I'd be happy to proofread it.


Thx Goerge,

I stand corrected and enlightened :)


Why dont you talk about the $200 million medical project that some syrian american docs are planning in Syria.who is behind that project? I heard that even some american official was there in syria for ceromony?How come you Guys dont go in front of the syrian embassy and domenstrate and help gather groups instead of wasting your time trying to be wannana be writers?

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