After many months of hopelessness and desperation about the fate of the Syrian revolution comes the trio of Riad Seif, Suheir Atassi and Sheikh Moaz al Khatib. I, like many other Syrians feel energized and hopeful again. Below is my translation, imperfect as it is, of Sheik al Khatib's remarkable speech.
Sheik Moaz Al Khatib, head of the newly established Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces
November 11, 2012, Qatar
The Syrian people are the product of 10,000 years of civilization. The great people of Syria are facing daily, a programmed war of extermination and savage destruction. It can be safely said that there is not a citizen that has not been harmed by this regime. Many parties have exerted much effort to pull this regime out of its primitiveness, its savagery and its stupidity but have been put off by its stubbornness and its arrogance. The regime has destroyed all aspects of normal life and turned Syria into ruins; it has worked for fifty years to negate the will of the people and to play on its contradictions using them to tear apart our people. After a long struggle, numerous patriotic groups have now united as one to stop the massacre to which our people are being subjected to daily as the rest of world passively listens and watches. Our primary task is to provide emergent humanitarian relief to our people and to stop the torrent of blood the runs day and night, as we unite our ranks to remove this tyrannical regime with all it symbols and build a righteous society based on justice and the dignity that is bestowed by god on every human being. I would like to alert you to certain issues, even if I deviate a little from the norms of diplomatic protocol. The first issue is that our revolution is a peaceful revolution from its beginning to its end and it is the regime alone that bears the moral and legal responsibility; for it is the regime that forced our people to resort to armed resistance to defend themselves, their families, their propery and their religion. In dozens of cities flowers were carried during demonstrations by thousands of young men and women. They carried flowers and cold water to give to members of the security forces to ask for their right, to simply express themselves. This monstrous regime responded with arrests, jail and torture and then proceeded to destroy the physical, social and economic structure of the country after destroying its intellectual and moral fabric for the past fifty years. We salute the struggle of this great people, men, women and children and we salute their legendary courage in the face of oppression and destruction as we stand with respect in memory of the souls of our martyrs. We also salute with loyalty all of the fighters of the Free Syrian Army who defend the revolution in the face of tyranny. The regime has destroyed our people, our country and our army that we honor and feel the pain at the sight of every coffin of a dead soldier. This is the army built by the people’s hard work, sweat and tears to defend the country only to be turned by the regime against the people. Our people’s demands were very simple, brothers, all our people wanted is for every individual to be able to go to sleep without fear. This was the demand of our people, brothers, and the regime did not respond to this simple demand, and today there are no acceptable decisions short of the departure of the regime and the complete dismantling of its monstrous structure. The second issue has to do with the Islamization of the revolution and what is said, day and night, about the savagery of the Syrian people and its rebels. Oh brothers, and I take full responsibility for what I say, every fighter is looking for freedom but some are driven to extremes by the savagery of the regime’s forces. Efforts are underway by legal councils to regulate the behavior of the rebel fighters even when it comes to their dealings with enemies. This revolution uses “takbir”(the chanting of Allah is great) in all its corners, not to push anyone away for our brothers from all faiths are our partners. Many of our Christian brothers have joined us as we started demonstrating from within mosques and chanted “Allahu Akbar” in the face of the tyrant. The Islam that we carry with us is an Islam that builds civilizations and honors human beings, an Islam that embraces Christianity in the most sacred of lands, an Islam that unites people not divides them, an Islam that considers that strength is in diversity no in isolation. And at the wake of the first martyrs in Douma, it was made very clear that we are demanding freedom for every Sunni and Alawi, every Christian and Durzi, every Ismaili and Syriani. We feel the pain of every one of them, from the injustices perpetrated against our Arabism to the injustices perpetrated against the great Kurdish people and to the injustices dealt to every segment of our society. What is present in our country is not only coexistence but true compassion and love for the other. Our work will end, and I say this specifically to our brethrens inside Syria, as soon as free elections are held. Every legal and constitutional question is suspended until then so that the people will decide on their legal system and their constitution with free elections after the fall of the regime and in an atmosphere of total freedom and equality. Thirdly, the revolution distances itself from the idea of revenge against anyone and there will be judiciary committees to hold accountable anyone who commits crimes against innocent citizens. I also plea, knowing that many Syrian army officers and soldiers are honorable people suppressed by iron and fire as we all were, I plea with them to prepare to defect from this corrupt body and to help us build the Syria of the future. The majority has suffered and the minorities have suffered and the regime has turned us against each other; it is time to unite in love to face the long night. Fourthly, we as individuals and communities, do not and will not pledge allegiance to any side or cause that is harmful to our people, our unity or our land and this blood is the signature of our commitment. We pledge in front of our people to protect their interests, their land, their religion, their morals, their freedom and the rule of law. The coming Syria will be for all its sons and daughters. I pledge personally in front of my brothers, to be at the service of my people, to unite them and that every decision made in their interest to regain their dignity. Fifthly, we call on the international community, on its governments to honor pledges of help to our people. Our people, Oh brothers, are not a primitive or marginal people, they are the makers of a great civilization and when our people’s rights are returned they will rise again and create a great civilization after the fall of the regime. We ask for all forms of humanitarian, political and economic support. In the name of all of our absent brothers in Syria, I extend my thanks to the government of Qatar and its people, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. I thank our partners in civilization and history, our Turkish brothers as well as our brothers in Libya, Jordan and Egypt. I hope we can work together to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people. I would also like to thank all of our brothers who worked tirelessly over many nights to put together this coalition. I would also like to thank the Syrian National Council for working with us as brothers, because in the end we are brothers. Finally I want to address our great people with reverence and kiss the hand of every mother and father. I also want to salute the steadfastness of our young men and women. I want to salute especially the Syrian woman, the greatest woman on this earth, who made the human beings who conquered iron and blood. I would also like to address our children with they have my unconditional love and tell them that we will shed our blood so that they can go to bed happy, with a smile on their lips and with love and peace in their dreams. I want to tell all Syrians that if you find good in what I do then keep me, but otherwise ask me to leave; I love you all and I ask god for success, praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds.
(Translation: Rabi Tawil)