Muslim majority countries often make civil war to wipe out minority faith: Bashar al-Assad intentionally lets more than 220 Syrian Druze civilians slaughtered by the ISIS in Suweida town and surrounding villages. The area is a heartland of Druze minority.
The Druze faith is a monotheistic Abrahamic religion that is a gnostic, Neoplatonist sect of Isma’ili Shia Islam. The Druze self-identify as an independent faith.
The Druze follow a batini (esoteric) interpretation of the Five Pillars of Islam. Modern scholars and the Amman Messageidentify them as Muslims. However, some Muslims disagree, noting that since they do not practice exoteric interpretations, “fasting during the month of Ramadan and making a pilgrimage to Mecca. Thus, they are not regarded by Muslims as Islamic”.
The Druze follow a lifestyle of isolation where no conversion is allowed, neither out of, nor into, the religion. When Druze live among people of other religions, they try to blend in, in order to protect their religion and their own safety. They can pray as Muslims, or as Christians, depending on where they are. This system is apparently changing in modern times, where more security has allowed Druze to be more open about their religious belonging.
Until Wednesday, Sweida, home to a predominantly Druze community, had largely been spared the violence that has hit Syria since 2011.
As Syria’s civil war took increasingly sectarian undertones, pitting the largely Sunni opposition against the predominantly Alawite ruling class, the Druze minority stayed largely on the sidelines. Community leaders in Sweida took a firm position against participating in the war, resisting enrolling their sons in the army to avoid revenge attacks. The Druze, followers of an esoteric offshoot of Islam, have kept their own local militias.
The attacks Wednesday rocked the community, sparking criticism of the government for failing to protect the minority group that has for years been spared the violence.
Diana Semaan, a Syria researcher at the rights group Amnesty International, said there were signs that no government troops or security were present to provide protection for the community when it came under attack. Despite the community’s push-back against getting involved in the war, the government has an “obligation” to protect them, Semaan said.
“We call on all sides to prioritize the protection of civilians. This didn’t happen (in Sweida),” she said. “No government troops were in site.”
In retaliation for the Druze civilians killed by ISIS today in the bloody massacre, the anguished people of Suweida hanged to death three ISIS jihadists who were captured alive.