Bashar Assad, Kept in Power by a Theocracy, Condemns Political Islam


Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, not currently a fan of the Muslim Brotherhood on account of them trying to kill him, responded to Morsi’s fall by condemning “political Islam.

“Whoever brings religion to use in politics or in favor of one group at the expense of another will fall anywhere in the world,” Assad was quoted as telling the official Thawra newspaper, according to an official Facebook page.

“The summary of what is happening in Egypt is the fall of what is called political Islam.”

Assad may not have noticed, but he’s being kept in power by the Iranian theocracy and the Islamist Hezbollah militia.

Assad condemning “political Islam” is nothing short of hilarious. And while Syria can be described as “secular” compared to the Saudi Arabia meets the Taliban mess that the Sunni Islamist militias battling it would create, it’s certainly not secular in the European or American sense.

Turkey was the closest country in the Muslim world to being secular. And that ship sailed with the Erdogan era. How secular is Syria? This secular.

Constitution adopted on 13th March 1973. Article 3(1) declares that religion of the President of the Republic shall be Islam. Article 3(2) declares Islamic jurisprudence a main source of legislation.

This is fairly typical in the Muslim world. When there’s talk about political Islam, it usually means rule of the clergy or total clerical control of the political and legal systems. Like in Iran.

The alternative to political Islam isn’t secularism. It’s just Sharia Lite.

  • Profit

    Muslim governments who say they are secular are practicing the old taqiyya trick.

  • rogerinflorida

    Mr. Greenfield,
    You are undoubtedly correct that Assad is being helped by Iran, however considering the forces trying to bring him down (and who the US is supporting) by comparison Bashar Assad is a shining example of tolerance and good govt.

  • observerBG

    I was researcing this question before years and Syria was never really secular. I would call it moderate (in comparison to Saudia Arabia) Islamic country. But not secular in any western sense.

    For example, up to 2009, male honour killers received reduced penalties if the reason for the murder was female adultery. Homosexuality was punished with up to 3 years in prison. Generally, the police did not respond to domestic abuse and wife beating. There were no laws against spousal rape. The law stateted that “If there is a contracted marriage between the man who commits rape, sexual abuse, kidnapping, sexual harassment and the victim, then there is no charge or the punishment is stopped.” If a rapist agree to marry the victim, then there is no punishment for him.

    Jews were banned from state empoyment. Regardless of religion, child custody laws for all children, including non muslim children, were based on Sharia Law. The Government does not recognize the religious status of Muslims who convert to Christianity. The reverse is not true. In the event of a conversion to Christianity, the Government still regards the individual convert as Muslim and still subject to Shari’a (Islamic Law). A Muslim woman cannot marry a Christian man, but a Christian woman can marry a Muslim man. If a Christian woman marries a Muslim man, however, she is not allowed to be buried in a cemetery for Muslims unless she converts to Islam. If a person wants to convert from Christianity to Islam, the law states that the presiding Muslim cleric must inform the prospective convert’s diocese.

    While there is no civil law prohibiting proselytizing, the Government
    discourages it and occasionally prosecutes missionaries for “posing a
    threat to the relations among religious groups” when they engage in such

    Religious affiliation is documented on the birth certificate. State radio broadcast the dawn, noon, and afternoon Islamic Prayers. State television also broadcast recitations from the Qur’an in the morning. Under the country’s interpretation of Shari’a, the legal standard for Muslim men to obtain a divorce is much lower than that for Muslim women.
    Husbands may claim adultery as grounds for divorce, while wives often face a higher legal standard when presenting the same case. A man can be found guilty of adultery only if the act takes place inside the home.

    If a wife requests a divorce from her husband, she may be denied alimony
    and the return of her dowry in some instances. In the event of divorce, under Shari’a, a woman loses the right to custody of her sons when they reach the age of 13, and her daughters when they reach the age of 15, regardless of religion.

    Women can also lose custody before their children reach this age if they remarry, work outside the home, or move outside of the city or country. In such cases, the custody of the children reverts to the maternal grandmother until the ages of 13 and 15, respectively. After that, custody reverts to the father until the children reach maturity at age 18.

    Inheritance is based on Shari’a for all citizens except Catholics. Accordingly, married women are usually granted half the share of inheritance that male heirs receive. When a Christian woman marries a Muslim, she is not entitled to
    an inheritance. Polygamy is legal for Muslim men. The Government continued to promote Islamic banking.

    Muslims and Christians were a subject to their respective religious laws on marriage and divorce. Orthodox and other Christians remained subject to Sharia Law in matters pertaining to adoption, inheritance, and guardianship. Social conventions and religious proscriptions made conversion
    relatively rare, especially Muslim-to-Christian conversion, which is
    technically illegal.
    In many cases societal pressure forced those who undertook such
    conversions to relocate within the country or to leave the country
    altogether to practice their religion openly. The Government bans Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    You may call Syria a moderate Islamic country. But this is not a secular country.

  • Alvaro

    Mr. Greenfield: Assad is most of all a Ba’athist like Saddam Hussein was. The Ba’ath parties endorse(d) Arab nationalism, and are/were nothing like the theocracies of Iran or Saudi-Arabia. Generally, minorities were much better treated than in other predominantly Muslim countries, and Christians could hold high positions in government: Tariq Aziz, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq under Saddam Hussein, was a Christian.

    Of course it is not like Western secularism. But it is the kind of secularism that at least tolerates Christians instead of literally trying to exterminate them.

    “Constitution adopted on 13th March 1973. Article 3(1) declares that religion of the President of the Republic shall be Islam.”

    Even the Norwegian Constitution § 2, states that the Evangelical-Lutheran Christianity is the State religion. And Norway is one of the most secular countries on the planet.

    “Assad may not have noticed, but he’s being kept in power by the Iranian theocracy and the Islamist Hezbollah militia.”

    Ironic, isn’t it. Almost as ironic as Obama providing the muscle of Saudi foreign policy in the Middle East, and being an ally of Al-Qaeda and their Jihadist cohorts in Syria.

    Destroying Ba’athism is a grave mistake since Arab nationalism is the only political force that effectively can keep religious zealots and thus sectarian violence in check.

    Don’t get me wrong: Assad is a dictator – but I would much rather be a Christian in Syria under Assad than under a post-Assad Syria run by Sunni extremists backed by Obama.