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Is a sectarian disaster on the horizon?

Reader comment on item: Lebanon's Liberation Approaches

Submitted by Jonathan M. (Singapore), Mar 1, 2005 at 10:52

If the Syrian regime falls, the Sunni majority (76%) may not be well disposed towards the religious minorities - Christians, Ismailis, Druze and especially Alawites. Although they hold themselves out to be Muslims, the Alawites are very distant from Sunni Islam and mainstream (Ithna Ashari) Shi'ism, and may better be regarded as a possibly crypto-Christian sect with Islamic and Iranian influences. Ibn Taymiyya, a principal inspiration for Wahhabis and other violent Sunni Islamists, described Alawites as infidels, worse than Jews and Christians and authorized jihad against them. It is notable that following the 1933 Sunni massacre of Iraqi Christians, Bashar Assad's grandfather lobbied the French authorities to include the heavily Alawite Latakia district in Lebanon rather than Syria for fear of Sunni fanaticism being unleashed on the Alawites. His son Hafiz al-Asad's seizure of dictatorial power and deflection of Sunni hatreds towards Israel, Jews and America would seem to be readily explainable phenomena.

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