U.S. Mosques Unite for Syria 'Day of Solidarity'

Posted on: August 11, 2012 at 00:32
Mosques and Islamic centers across the United States came together Friday to condemn Syria's brutal crackdown on dissent and raise funds for civilians trapped in the conflict.

With the holy month of Ramadan heading towards its final week, imams used Friday prayers to denounce Syrian President Bashar Assad as a tyrant and to encourage American Muslims to speak out against ongoing atrocities.

''What is going on in Syria is unbelievable,'' Imam Shaker Elsayed told more than 300 noon-hour worshippers at the Dar Al-Hijra mosque in Falls Church, Virginia, a multi-ethnic suburb of Washington.

''It reminds me of Pol Pot. It reminds me of Adolf Hitler. It reminds me of the most despicable characters in the history of mankind... We have to take a stand. This movie in Syria, we've seen it before.''

Spearheading the Day of Solidarity with the Syrian People was the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and 12 other Muslim and Syrian-American organizations.

It coincided with the United States slapping new sanctions Friday on Assad's regime and its supporters, in a conflict that has claimed 21,000 lives in the past 17 months in the heart of the Middle East.

The United States is home to an estimated 2.6 million Muslims, according to an estimate in 2010 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Mohammed Ghanem, director of government relations for the Syrian American Council, one of the groups behind Friday's day of solidarity, was unable to specify the number of mosques and Islamic centers participating.

''But it's on quite a large scale,'' he told Agence France Presse, after the sponsoring organizations -- which include the biggest Muslim organizations in the United States -- ''got in touch with their base and urged them to take part.''

Exiting Friday prayers, many worshippers at Dar Al-Hijra slipped folded $1 and $5 bills into three padlocked wooden boxes marked ''Syria'' to be passed on to relief organizations helping civilians in the midst of the fighting.

''I feel very bad for them,'' one worshipper, Ned Hadid, told AFP after making his contribution. ''They're really suffering.''

Asked whether the United States was doing as much as it could to end the bloodshed, he replied: ''We could do more, that's for sure. We have a lot of issues at hand, but we can do more to stop an aggressive regime.''

''I think the regime there (in Syria) is a criminal regime,'' said another worshipper, Anthony, who attended prayers with his son and grandson but preferred not to give his last name.

''The White House is being silent and nobody is speaking on behalf of the people of Syria,'' added Anthony, whose family hails from Tunisia, starting point in 2011 of the Arab Spring uprisings.

''That's not right... To me, this is a humanitarian crisis.''

Source:Agence France Presse
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