More Work Is Needed to Expose the Extremists and Their Backers, and to Strengthen Society to Enable Escape from the Symbiotic Evils of the Syrian Regime and Extremist Groups
(Link below to download full report)
In its report released today, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) condemns extremist groups’ displaying photos during Idlib and Raqqa protests of the terrorist who killed the French teacher Samuel Paty, noting that more work is needed to expose the extremists and their backers, and to strengthen society to enable an escape from the symbiotic evils of the Syrian regime and extremist groups.
The five-page report explains that on Friday, October 30, 2020, popular protests took place in several areas of northwest Syria outside the control of the Syrian regime, with protesters denouncing the insulting portraits of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, and also condemning what they viewed as offensive statements about Islam.
The report reveals that some of the protesters attending these demonstrations displayed photos of terrorist Abdullah Anzurov, the Chechen man who brutally slaughtered a French teacher named Samuel Paty on October 16, near the French capital Paris, for displaying cartoons insulting the Messenger Muhammad to his students in the school where he taught.
As the report reveals, the Chechen terrorist’s picture was displayed by some protesters at three of these protests, two of which were called for by institutions or bodies affiliated with the extremist group Hay’at Tahrir al Sham in Idlib city, which is under its control.
In regard to the popular uprising towards democracy in Syria, the report recalls the events that the uprising has endured, including simultaneous attacks by both the Syrian regime and extremist groups, noting that the al Qaeda affiliate al Nusra Front announced its presence in Syria nearly a year after the start of the popular uprising in March 2011, in which the people demanded freedom from the tyrannical ruling regime, and the fundamental right to live with dignity; this was followed by the establishment of the ISIS terrorist group in April 2013. The report points out that the Syrian regime’s response to these demands has been to perpetrate numerous types of violations against those demanding freedom and democracy, some of which amount to crimes against humanity, since the first months of the popular uprising.
The report stresses that violence in any society is the product of a complex variety of circumstances and contexts, noting that there are four main causes of violence in Syrian society, which are summarized in the following points:
1- The practices of authoritarian regimes, whose continuous looting and harnessing of the state’s resources in their favor have serious negative repercussions on the political, social and economic levels within society.
2- A nihilistic worldview in which injustice is the norm rather than the exception has spread among many in Syrian society as a direct result of the brutal violations by the Syrian regime on the one hand, and the non-intervention of the international community and failure to provide any protection for civilians on the other.
3- Any peaceful popular uprising by oppressed people demanding democracy and respect for human rights constitutes a fundamental threat to every totalitarian dictatorial regime, with the Syrian regime being the primary example of this, as well as posing the same threat to extremist groups, with both the Syrian regime and extremist groups needing a cowed and subservient populace. Given this shared interest, both the Syrian regime and extremist groups agree to weaken, threaten and terrorize society in order to subjugate and control it; the Syrian regime uses the capabilities of the Syrian state, including the security services and the army, to suppress society, while religious extremist groups label the vast majority of society as infidels unless they submit to the extremists’ warped perception of religion, with both the Syrian regime and extremist groups offering only two choices to those under their brutal rule: either accept their absolute power unquestioningly or be arrested, tortured, and/or killed.
4- The Syrian regime benefits from creating favorable conditions for the emergence of extremist groups in order to justify its own brutal violence and to validate its claim to be killing terrorists; likewise, the extremist groups benefit from the violence of the Syrian regime to recruit members, exploiting religious texts, taking advantage of the ignorance of many and mobilizing gullible young people from all over the world to join their ranks and adopt their extremist ideology.
The report notes that extremist groups have benefited from social media platforms in marketing and promoting their aspirations and ideologies, further noting that many non-religious youths have also joined these extremist groups, stressing that the regime’s machinery of repression and the lack of any economic and political horizons has pushed some Syrians and non-Syrians to join these extremist groups.
The report stresses that displaying the photo of the Chechen terrorist constitutes a violation of the rights of the Syrian people, and an attempt to impose extremist symbols and an extremist agenda on it; this is achieved via armed force, threats and terrorism. SNHR condemns the displaying of this or any other terrorist’s photo and all terrorist operations carried out by extremist groups, including the spread of extremist ideology.
The report emphasizes that extremist groups are actively spreading their ideology, and relentlessly trying to alienate society, isolating the people from the context of their culture and faith, which makes it easier for these groups to recruit as many people as possible into their ranks, mainly based on cynically exploiting the legitimate grievances resulting from the Syrian regime’s continuing crimes against humanity, and the lack of any political and economic hope on the horizon.
The report calls for a deeper understanding of the causes behind the spread of these violent phenomena and practices, in order to work to combat them and to sever their roots.
The report calls on the international community and the United Nations to work seriously to achieve a political transition towards democracy and human rights in Syria, stressing that the political transition is the only way to get rid of both the Syrian regime and the extremist groups, both of which consider democracy to be intolerable. The report recommends that a timetable must be set for the completion of this political transition, because leaving it open-ended means increased dissemination of the causes of extremist thought, and thus a greater proliferation of extremism, violence and terrorism.
The report also recommends that the international community and the United Nations should enhance the strength of Syrian society by providing more relief assistance, including in education and healthcare, and supporting local Syrian organizations working in the field of awareness, citizenship, and psychological rehabilitation.
Lastly, the report calls on the international community and the United Nations to target all terrorist groups whatever their sectarian or ethnic orientations.