Shia Rights Watch, Washington DC, Today, in a collaborative effort, some of the most influential Shia Muslim organizations in the United States have released a Joint Statement Regarding Syria, reflecting the views of these organizations and their membership. In doing so, these organizations have firmly released their opinion of opposition to violence against innocent Syrians, in opposition to attacks against the holy sites of the Syrian people, and in opposition to any military strikes against the country of Syria. The Joint Statement Regarding Syria is as follows:
Modern Syria gained its independence from France in 1946, but since has lived through periods of political instability driven by conflicting interests of various groups. Currently, Syria is undergoing a tragic two-year period of violence culminating in atrocious crimes against humanity from conflicting military forces fighting for the leadership of Syria. Innocent civilians have paid dearly for this ongoing conflict and no end appears in sight for their suffering.
The world has witnessed an increasingly uncontrollable state of war fueled by political interests of several nations on each side and sectarian animosity towards certain communities within Syria. Terrorist organizations from Arab and South Asian countries have sent thousands of fighters to Syria to fight alongside opposition groups, while the Syrian Government is continuing its brutal military campaign. It is vital that the world community comes together in an effort to peacefully solve Syria’s humanitarian crisis.
The United States is now involved in a national debate on whether to take military action against Syria. Politicians of both major political parties remain opposed to a military intervention. (See Appendix A)
We, the undersigned, acting under the collective conscience of Shia Muslims in the United States of America and guided by the principles of justice promulgated by the Holy Prophet (sawa) and his immaculate household (Ahlul Bayt) (as), solemnly believe and declare as follows:
- We unambiguously and unequivocally condemn the killing of innocent civilians in Syria, regardless of race, religion, sect, ethnicity, nationality, or political allegiance. The killing of innocent civilians constitutes an abhorrent and illegal act under all acknowledged principles of war and international law. It can never be justified by any cause.
- We condemn the kidnapping, torture, and execution of any individuals, and are opposed to any groups that engage in this type of behavior.
- We condemn the usage of chemical weapons or any other weapons of mass destruction by any party to the conflict.
- We are committed to a Syria that will espouse the values of freedom, human rights, justice, and equality; a Syria that secures the rights of both the majority and the minority, and expresses the viewpoints of all Syrians committed to peace.
- The international community must be united in the preservation of human rights and the upholding of humanitarian law.
- Given that certain ethnic, sectarian, and religious communities are smaller in size and unable to protect themselves, it is imperative for the international community to protect minority communities from annihilation at the hands of militants.
- It is imperative that all parties work to ensure that religious buildings, monuments and other important sites of historic relevance are not targeted, desecrated, or attacked in any fashion. The aspects of religion that are important to any of Syria’s people, regardless of whether they are Christian, Shia, Sunni, Kurdish, Druze, Alawite or of any other belief set or group, must be respected.
- We believe in a non-violent solution to the crisis at hand, and support the efforts of international leaders to resolve this issue through diplomacy and dialogue, rather than through violence or other military action. We call for an immediate ceasefire by all parties involved under the auspices of the United Nations, and the preparation for a transitional government that represents the will of the Syrian people.
- We believe that such a peaceful resolution cannot be achieved by means of foreign military intervention. History has taught us on innumerable occasions that foreign military intervention merely accomplishes the addition of another party to the conflict with the tendency of further escalating violence. Thus, we hold firmly that foreign military intervention would be counterproductive to achieving a peaceful resolution in Syria.
- We hold that a military intervention in Syria does not serve the national security interests of the United States. Past military intervention in such conflicts has proven to generate increased extremist recruitment along with attacks against the United States and its allies.
- We believe that a peaceful resolution must be based on the premise of diplomacy with the end goal of facilitating the establishment of a representative government that espouses the values of freedom, human rights, justice, and equality for all Syrians. Such a government should be administratively aided by the United Nations in order to ensure free and fair democratic elections.
Therefore, we pray to the Almighty for a swift, peaceful, and positive resolution to this conflict, and for an end to the fighting that has led to the horrific deaths of countless civilians and the plight of over two million Syrian refugees.
SIGNATORIES OF STATEMENT
- BAITUL ILM, IL.
- COUNCIL OF SHIA MUSLIM SCHOLARS IN NORTH AMERICA
- FREEMUSLIM ASSOCIATION
- IMAMIA MEDICS INTERNATIONAL (IMI)
- IMAM SHIRAZI WORLD FOUNDATION
- IMAM KHOEI CENTER, NY.
- ISLAMIC EDUCATION CENTER OF ORANGE COUNTY, CA. (IECOC)
- ISLAMIC HOUSE OF WISDOM, MI.
- ISLAMIC INFORMATION CENTER (IIC)
- MUSLIMS FOR PEACE (MFP)
- MUSLIM FOUNDATION INC., NJ. (MFI)
- ORGANIZATION OF NORTH AMERICAN SHIA ITHNASHERI MUSLIM COMMUNITIES (NASIMCO)
- SHIA ASSOCIATION OF NORTH AMERICA, NJ. (SANA)
- SHIA INTERNATIONAL
- SHIA RIGHTS WATCH
- SOULS MARCH
- UNIVERSAL MUSLIM ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA (UMAA)
Senator Christopher S. Murphy (D – CT):
“I enter this debate extremely skeptical that military intervention can improve the situation in Syria, a position I’ve held since the beginning of this conversation, and believe that any action we take should start with increased humanitarian aid both inside and outside the country.”
Senator Marc Rubio (R – FL):
“While I have long argued forcefully for engagement in empowering the Syrian people, I have never supported the use of U.S. military force in the conflict. And I still don’t. I remain unconvinced that the use of force proposed here will work.”
Senator Ted Cruz (R – TX):
“We should be focused on defending the United States of America. That’s why young men and women sign up to join the military, not to, as you know, serve as Al Qaeda’s air force.”
Senator John Boozman (R – AR):
“It is almost certain that limited strikes will not destroy Assad’s ability to continue to murder his own people, with or without chemical weapons, and it will absolutely draw the U.S. down the path of greater involvement in the conflict.”
Senator Tom Harkin (D – IA):
“We should not rush into what may become a new open-ended war without broad international backing or a full understanding of the ramifications.”
Rodney Alexander (R – LA 5):
“At this time, Congressman Alexander does not feel it is in our best interests to take military action,” his spokeswoman, Jamie Hanks, said.
Representative Justin Amash (R – MI 3):
“At the end of the day, it’s our resources and our sons and daughters who end up fighting these wars. It’s time to start saying no to other countries, that they need to start taking responsibility for themselves.”
Representative Michele Bachmann (R – MN 6):
“I am adamantly opposed to President Obama starting another war in the Middle East and plan to vote against military intervention in Syria.”
Representative Paul Tonko (D – NY 20):
“There’s no denying that people being gassed, youngsters being gassed, is horrific, immoral and unacceptable, but I think we need to move with caution because of many dynamics.”
Representative Kurt Schrader (D – OR 5):
“I remain opposed to authorizing the unilateral use of U.S. forces — limited or not — without strong international support and clear, attainable objectives.”