One of the early voices that spoke out calling for a reasonable action in Syria was the prominent thinker Firas Al-Sawwah.
Firas Al-Sawwah is a Syrian thinker, writer, accomplished scholar and independent researcher. Born in Homs, Syria in 1941, he currently works with Beijing Foreign Studies University, BFSU, teaching Arab Civilization and history of religions in the Near East. Between 1976 and 2016, he published 26 books on mythology, history, and history of religions.
Mr. Sawwah has issued many appeals to Syrian youth asking them to think before they act and warned them against the threat of those who are lurking in the dark waiting for the right moment to use the slogans of freedom and liberty to achieve filthy agendas.
The significance of Mr. Sawwah’s words is that they came out very quiet, peaceful, respectful, and logical. He foresaw the reality we are living now, and presented his fears in a very authentic and personal manner. Those words where written in the very early days of conflict in Syria back in 2011, but reading them today is a must simply because his Orwellian prophecy has come true.
Mr. Sawwah is one of the greatest intellectuals in modern and contemporary Syrian history, he is a real treasure not only to Syria, but to the world.
(The statements were written in Arabic, I have translated them and will publish them as sequels)
An appeal from Firas Al Sawah in the name of writers and intellectuals, to the Syrian youth.
During the past few days you have proven through your civilized manner that the Syrian people have not lost the liveliness for which they have been known for ages. You have expressed our and your hopes for change and reform. But, in the name of your love for this country and for the purpose of protecting it, we call you to retreat from the streets now just for the sake of social unity because your noble cause for change is being used by suspicious groups and sides that are instigating sectarian division and promoting hatred slogans that are completely irrelevant to our present. Saying this, you must know that I am not adopting government media attitudes, but forming an attitude based on what I have seen heard, and I guess that I need not justify myself; you know me, and you know that I have never been partial to any ruler or authority.
If you retreat from the streets now this will reveal the intruders and put an end to any possible affliction that would lead our country to annihilation.
I hereby call all colleagues, those whom I know and whom I don’t know, to support this appeal.
From Firas Al-Sawwah to the democratic youth:
(from Khaled my Umayyad lord… fall to Alawite Bashar)
(Christians to Beirut … Alawites to coffin)
(we want to speak outload. we want no Alawites around)
(One! One! One! Alawites and (***) are one!)
-Do you want to protest under any of the aforementioned slogans being repeated now in many protests and in different places?
-Is there a political project that unites you with those behind such slogans?
-Do you want to join the brigade of that who calls himself “Prince of Homs” (Emir of Homs) who thinks that he has formed an Islamist Principality in this city and feels free to call for the slaughter of some fellow citizens under the pretext of Jihad in the name of Allah?
-Does the freedom to kill being promoted by this group meet with the freedom you are calling for?
Undoubtedly, your answer to all those question is “NO!”
However, protesting for freedom and reform and all your noble slogans at this time will be automatically categorized under this form of Islam that I call pagan Islam, this from of Islam that has never realized real Islam and has never been identified by Islamic culture throughout its history.
I hereby support your cause and stand on your side, for the second time I call you to suspend your activity temporarily. Stop joining those protests because your activity will be serving the interests of birds of darkness that seek to gain more power to achieve a political project that has nothing to do with your interests. This battle is no longer your battle. Keep away from birds of darkness, let the authorities deal with them the way any authority would deal with any threat that imposes on social unity, or else, you would be stampeded on by both parties later. Once the obscurity is gone, and once everything becomes clear, you will be able to go out and protest again if you feel the urge to do so, especially that the new laws grant you this essential right.
The pillars of authority in Syria and the [Baath] party realize now more than ever that the constitution formed after cold war on the model of constitutions that were used in eastern Europe, is too shabby now and does not go with the spirit of our age. This constitution will drastically change with time. As the President (Assad) has noted, the initial set of reformations that have already started is just the beginning. Together with you we will be the guardians on this peaceful reform that will hopefully bring us the democracy we long for.
As I have stated in my previous appeal, I do not adopt the narrative of official media, and I do not belong to any governmental system or institution. I have always been free, in thinking, attitude, and dogma, like you and your fathers before you have always known me. I have never sought any position nor have I worked to fulfill personal benefit, and I have always set distance between myself and any person with power or authority; I owe nothing to anyone.
I have lived through an era of Syrian history that you have only known in books. I have participated in the first protest when I was seven; first grade. We protested against the announcement of the rise of Israel as a state in 1948 after the Arabs had lost Palestine war. Since that day, I have not missed a protest. We fought against military dictatorship in the early fifties, and we supported every cause in the Arab world. During the very short democracy that Syria witnessed, we were guardians on the performance of politicians and governments. When Abdul Nasser aborted our new democracy, dismantled all parties, suspended independent newspapers and replaced them with government newspapers, I was among the opposition that protested against his actions. I have entered Abdul Nasser’s infamous prisons where those who opposed him died under torture and then their bodies were melted with acid and thrown into the sewage system.
In the morning of September 28, 1961 I woke up to the news about the coup of the Syrian Army against Nasser. At that time, I had just finished my first year at Damascus university and was spending the las days of summer break in Homs. After hearing the news, I immediately went with a friend if mine, Abdul Mouty Al-Tayyara, towards Al-Zahrawi, Homs’ biggest high school. We broke through the main gate and headed towards the corridor. Students were in their classes, I stood there and let out the first cry that went out in Syria calling for the fall of Abdul Nasser.
Everyone came out of their classes and gathered around me. I repeated again, “Down with Jamal Abdul Nasser the dictator!!”, few of them repeated after me with some fear. I was delighted! More people were calling with me now, until everyone was shouting out the same phrase. They all marched behind me in a huge protest towards the city, none of them dropped out. Before we reached the main square, military police cars had already arrived, then I and Abdul Mouty were arrested. We were taken to the jail of the area because military divisions in Homs had not decided yet how to react to the coup. At night we were released after a military statement that announced the agreement of the leaders of all military divisions to support Syria’s break from the United Arab Republic.
My father arranged with a driver specialized in smuggling people to Lebanon, he wanted to send me there just in case of any changes that would lead me again to Abdul Nasser’s prisons where I would be turned into kebab under the knives of his jailors.
To be continued..