Lebanon’s Druze spiritual leader warns against any attempt to betray the Druze in Syria

druze sheikh abu el Muna
File : Top Druze spiritual leader in Lebanon Sheikh ( Akl) Sami Abi Al-Muna

The top Druze spiritual leader in Lebanon Sheikh ( Akl) Sami Abi Al-Muna affirmed during a call with his counterpart in Syria, Druze spiritual leader , Sheikh(Akl) Hikmat Al-Hijri, “full confidence in his wisdom and leadership and those of the wise sheiks of Jabal Al-Arab and many of the well-known patriotic figures, and distinguished men,” reiterating “the pride of their brothers in Lebanon in their courage and firm patriotic stances.”

Abi Al-Muna warned against “any attempt to humiliate and betray the Druze in Syria. They are the true sons of Arabism, the sons of the Sultan of the Mujahideen, the patriots par excellence, and the shameless Arabs. They are the ones who were and still are the defenders of the independence, unity, and dignity of the Syrian people. They are its strong men who always stood for unity and patriotism.”

Sheikhs Abu Al-Muna and Al-Hijri stressed, “the necessity of keeping the movement peaceful in Sweida, to be a higher model of patriotism, preserving dignity, and refraining from insults for the good of of Jabal Al-Arab and the whole country.”

Abi Al-Muna’s remarks come after the spiritual leader of the Druze community in southern Syria warned on Wednesday that the Syrian regime plans to drag the region into violence after protesters were shot at the same day.

File : Sheikh Hikmat Al-Hijri

Sheikh Al-Hijri called on the activists to continue protests against the regime, saying he was “not surprised by what happened” and holding the ruling Baath Party responsible for any deaths or injuries to protesters.  

Three people were wounded on Wednesday when bullets were fired at anti-regime protesters in Sweida in the first reported use of violence in weeks-long demonstrations in the Druze-majority province.

Open criticism of the regime has become increasingly rare in areas controlled by President Bashar Al-Assad, but the regime’s decision to lift fuel subsidies last month prompted fresh protests, concentrated mainly in Sweida.

Won’t back down

Protesters chant slogans during a protest in the Druze-majority city of Sweida, southwestern Syria, 15 September 2023. (EPA)

“The [public] squares are ours and we will remain in them peacefully for a day, two days, a month, two months, a year, or two years, and we will not back down,” Al-Hijri told visitors at his residence in Qanawat just northeast of Suweida.

He described the Iran-backed militias in Syria, which make up a large segment of the Syrian regime’s military apparatus, as “occupiers of our lands”.

Syrians from Sweida have for years complained over the presence of Iranian and Iran-backed militias in their areas, blaming them for the rise in chaos and crimes.

Tehran has backed the Syrian regime for most of the conflict which started in 2011.

“Everyone who does not stand with his people, which is a sign of dignity, is a traitor to his homeland,” one of the sheik’s aides read from a statement, adding that “everyone who supports this defunct party [the Baath Party] is… outside of the religious values ​​and principles on which we were raised”.

Al-Hijri stressed the commitment to peaceful protest, calling on activists to remain in the streets until their demands are met, and warning the regime against the use of force.

“Spread awareness among [Sweida’s] people regardless of their orientations and beware the strife that the regime and its aides seek,” Al-Hijri said.

According to analysts the Druze uprising in Syria could signal the rebirth of the Syrian revolution that erupted in 2011 .

August marked the month when the Druze of Syria led by Sultan Pasha Al Atrash defeated the French in a full-fledged rebellion and by September were joined by Syrian nationalists from the People’s Party.