Meet Sheikh Ahmed Hassoun, Syria's "Grand Mufti"

“If politeness and ceremony be observed toward Mohammedans, they imagine they are feared and become arrogant; but in showing severity and rudeness, they are impressed with fear and respect, and they are supple and manageable.”

–North China Herald,1867

It is mindboggling that headbangers like this Sheikh Ahmed Hassoun  are allowed to speak at the EU parliament. Creatures like this should be held in contempt by self-respecting, civilized Europeans:

Some examples here:

Grand Mufti of Syria: “a single civilisation unites us all..”

Religion of  bridge-builders….

Euro-dhimmies ban showing of FITNA

(after instructions from Syria’s grand mufti, of course…)

Syria’s Grand Mufti warns EU-Dhimmi’s to restrict Free Speech. Or else…

How  can Mohammedanism spread when infidels are allowed to insult the profit?

Robert Spencer has this:

Syria’s Mufti: “If Mohammed had commanded us to kill people, I would have told him he was not a prophet”

Here is a particularly audacious exercise in deception from Sheikh Ahmed Hassoun, the Mufti of Syria. I say deception because his assertions are so flagrantly at variance with the Qur’an and Sunnah that he simply must know that what he is saying is false. And while it is remotely possible that he is attempting to work a loophole by saying that Muhammad never said these things while knowing that the Qur’an does say them, on the pretext that Allah, not Muhammad, wrote the Qur’an, there is enough in the Hadith to show that Muhammad said the same things as well. Detailed explanations below.

“Syria’s Mufti: Islam commands us to protect Judaism,” from Haaretz, January 19 (thanks to all who sent this in):

Syria’s foremost Muslim leader declared on Tuesday that Islam commands its followers to protect Judaism, according to Army Radio.”If the Prophet Mohammed had asked me to deem Christians or Jews heretics, I would have deemed Mohammed himself a heretic,” Sheikh Ahmed Hassoun, the Mufti of Syria, was quoted as telling a delegation of American academics visiting Damascus.

Reality check:

“They indeed have disbelieved who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary.” — Qur’an 5:17

“They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary.” — Qur’an 5:72

“The Jews call ‘Uzair [Ezra] a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!” — Qur’an 9:30

Of course, that is the Qur’an, not Muhammad. So here’s Muhammad:

“When the last moment of the life of Allah’s Apostle came he started putting his ‘Khamisa’ on his face and when he felt hot and short of breath he took it off his face and said, “May Allah curse the Jews and Christians for they built the places of worship at the graves of their Prophets.” The Prophet was warning (Muslims) of what those had done.” – Bukhari 1.8.427

“Once ‘Umar was informed that a certain man sold alcohol. ‘Umar said, ‘May Allah curse him! Doesn’t he know that Allah’s Apostle said, “May Allah curse the Jews, for Allah had forbidden them to eat the fat of animals but they melted it and sold it.”‘” —Bukhari 3.34.426

Hassoun may also be referring to the “true” Christians and Jews as envisioned by the Qur’an — the portion of the People of the Book who accept Muhammad as a prophet and become Muslim: “If only the People of the Book had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors” — Qur’an 3:110. In Islamic theology, the People of the Book who have faith are those who convert to Islam, while those who do not are the people who are known as Jews and Christians in the world today. So Hassoun could be slyly referring to these converts to Islam from Judaism and Christianity, saying that they are not heretics, while knowing that his hearers will understand him to be referring to the world’s Jews and Christians.

Hassoun, the leader of Syria’s majority Sunni Muslim community, also told the delegates that Islam was a religion of peace, adding: “If Mohammed had commanded us to kill people, I would have told him he was not a prophet.”

“And slay them wherever ye find them…” — Qur’an 2:191

“…and slay them wherever ye find them…” — Qur’an 4:89

“…slay the idolaters wherever ye find them…” — Qur’an 9:5

“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” — Qur’an 9:29

“Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks…” — Qur’an 47:4

And Muhammad:

“Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.” – Bukhari 9.84.57

“During the last days there will appear some young foolish people who will say the best words but their faith will not go beyond their throats (i.e. they will have no faith) and will go out from (leave) their religion as an arrow goes out of the game. So, wherever you find them, kill them, for whoever kills them shall have reward on the Day of Resurrection.” – Bukhari 9.84.64

“I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform a that, then they save their lives and property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah.” – Bukhari 1.2.24

And there is much more in this vein.

Religious wars were the result of politics infiltrating systems of faith, he said, asking:”Was Moses of Middle Eastern or European descent? Was Jesus a Protestant or a Catholic? Was Mohammed Shi’ite or Sunni?”

1. Middle Eastern. 2. Neither. 3. Neither.

And so?

According to the Mufti, the conflict between Israel and its Arabs neighbors has nothing to do with an Islamic war against Judaism.

That’s not what Hamas or Hizballah or Islamic Jihad say. Has the Mufti ever strolled over to their Damascus offices and remonstrated with them?

“Before you got American citizenship, and I got Syrian citizenship, we were all brothers under the dome of God,” he said.Jews had once lived in Syria peacefully and with fair treatment, he added, explaining that his own grandfather had a Jewish partner.

“Jews lived in Syria for years and they still have a role in Syrian society,” he said.

As long as they knew their place as good submissive dhimmis.

Hugh Fitzgerald comments:

According to the Mufti, the conflict between Israel and its Arabs neighbors has nothing to do with an Islamic war against Judaism.”

Of course he would say that. Muslims are deeply worried that, as people in the Western world, on the receiving end of Muslim violence, aggression, and also non-violent but equally dangerous and sinister forms of Jihad,learn about the texts and tenets of Islam, they will, insensibly, come to re-think their view of the war being made by the Arabs and Muslims against Israel, the Lesser Jihad against Israel.

And as they begin to grasp the nature of Islam, they will inexorably come to understand several things.

To wit:
That the war against Israel is a Jihad, and the existence of the Infidel nation-state of Israel, on land once controlled by Muslims, must not, can not, be tolerated in the long run.

That the war against the Infidel nation-state of Israel cannot be lessened, much less brought to an end, by Israel’s further surrender of territory, and shrinkage into the “lines of Asuchwitz” (as Abba Evan described them).

That any further reductions in Israel’s tiny size — a place scarcely to be made out on a world map — will merely increase the belief, among Arabs and Muslims, that they can go in for the kill, and will increase the likelihood of open warfare.

That Israel, so reduced, may be able to hold on, just, but whether it does or not, the triumphalism that will be felt by the Arabs and Muslims can only increase to the extent that Israel approaches its final demise, and that triumphalism will naturally whet Arab and Muslim appetites elsewhere, but above all elsewhere, in the countries of Wesetern Europe.

It is this line of thinking, this understanding of Islam as explaining the Arab and Muslim war against Israrel, that the keenest Arabs and Muslims worry about. They hate it, for example, when Hamas and Fatah are described as the Fast Jihadists and the Slow Jihadists, differing only in matters of tactics and timing. They worry about the Western world coming to its senses too soon, and too comprehensively, about Islam.

That is what lies behind the nonsense and lies of the Mufti of Syria, to an audience of visiting Infidels whom, he is betting, will not do any study of their own, but be charmed by the deep sincerity of his gaze, and those stirring words — he wouldn’t fool us, would he? — given to a delegation of “American academics” — allowing one to think he would stand stoutly to protect Jews, or at least Judaism, and Christians, or at least Christianity.

Essentially Sheikh Ahmad Hassoun, Mufti of Syria, was giving an intelligence test. He despises those American academics, and thinks they are too stupid to find out for themselves what the texts, tenets, attitudes, atmospherics of Islam really are. He expects them to remain ignorant of 1400 years of history of Muslim conquest, and of the subjugation of non-Muslims, and of the treatment of those who, as Christians and Jews, were allowed to live (compare what happened to 60-70 million Hindus) but only under conditions of deliberate, systematic degradation, humiliation and, above all, permanent physical insecurity, sometimes greater and sometimes lesser, depending on the ruler.

He thinks they will be, and remain, gullible.

I think that some, or perhaps many of them, will at this point prove him wrong, and pass that intelligence test, and slough off his lies, and be even more wary than they were before.

I hope my faith in the good sense and intelligence of those American academics proves correct, and that the contempt secretly shown them by the Mufti of Syria turns out to be ill-founded.

We’ll see.

———————————————————————————————————————

Hugh Fitzgerald has more:

What the Mufti of Syria hopes you don’t know

“According to the Mufti, the conflict between Israel and its Arabs neighbors has nothing to do with an Islamic war against Judaism.” – from this story about the Mufti of Syria

Of course he would say that. Muslims are deeply worried that as people all over the Western world who find themselves on the receiving end of Muslim violence, aggression, and also non-violent but equally dangerous and sinister forms of Jihad, learn about the texts and tenets of Islam, they will, insensibly, come to re-think their view of the war being made by the Arabs and Muslims against Israel, the Lesser Jihad against Israel.

And as those people begin to grasp the nature of Islam, they will inexorably come to understand several other things as well.

To wit:

They will come to understand that as far as Muslims are concerned, the war against Israel is a Jihad, and the existence of the Infidel nation-state of Israel, on land once controlled by Muslims, must not and cannot, be tolerated in the long run.

They will come to understand that the war against the Infidel nation-state of Israel cannot be lessened, much less brought to an end, by Israel’s further surrender of territory, and shrinkage into the “lines of Auschwitz” (as Abba Evan described them).

They will come to understand that any further reductions in Israel’s tiny size — a place scarcely to be made out on a world map — will merely increase the belief, among Arabs and Muslims, that they can go in for the kill, and will increase the likelihood of open warfare.

They will come to understand that Israel, so reduced, may be able to hold on, just, but whether it does or not, the triumphalism that will be felt by the Arabs and
Muslims can only increase to the extent that Israel approaches its final demise. And that triumphalism will in turn naturally whet Arab and Muslim appetites elsewhere, but above all elsewhere, in Spain and the countries of Western Europe.

It is this line of thinking, this understanding of Islam as explaining the Arab and Muslim war against Israel, that the keenest Arabs and Muslims worry about. They don’t want Westerners to catch on to this. They hate it, for example, when Hamas and Fatah are described as the Fast Jihadists and the Slow Jihadists, differing only in matters of tactics and timing. They worry about the Western world coming to its senses too soon, and too comprehensively, about Islam and the Jihad that is currently being waged on so many fronts against the West.

That is what lies behind the nonsense and lies of the Mufti of Syria, which he delivered to an audience of visiting Infidels — a delegation of “American academics.” He is betting that those Infidels will not do any study of their own, but will instead be charmed by the deep sincerity of his gaze, and those stirring words — he wouldn’t fool us, would he? – that allow one to think that he would stand stoutly to protect Jews, or at least Judaism, and Christians, or at least Christianity.

Essentially Sheikh Ahmad Hassoun, Mufti of Syria, was giving an intelligence test. He despises those American academics, and thinks they are too stupid to find out for themselves what the texts, tenets, attitudes, and atmospherics of Islam really are. He expects them to remain ignorant of 1400 years of history of Muslim conquest, and of the subjugation of non-Muslims, and of the treatment of those who, as Christians and Jews, were allowed to live (compare what happened to 60-70 million Hindus) but only under conditions of deliberate, systematic degradation, humiliation and, above all, permanent physical insecurity, sometimes greater and sometimes lesser, depending on the ruler.

He thinks they will be, and remain, gullible.

I think that some, or perhaps many of them, will at this point prove him wrong, and pass that intelligence test, and slough off his lies, and be even more wary than they were before.

I hope my faith in the good sense and intelligence of those American academics proves correct, and that the contempt secretly shown them by the Mufti of Syria turns out to be ill-founded.

We’ll see.

8 thoughts on “Meet Sheikh Ahmed Hassoun, Syria's "Grand Mufti"”

  1. A single civilization unites us all, yes, and it created the nuclear bomb, God’s answer to Islam, so when is it going to get to make its hajj to Mecca and clean up the source of the #1 infection plaguing worldwide civiliation? 🙂 Will the U.S. let Israel, China, Russia, France, India, or Britain do the honors when George Washington is rolling in his grave trying to get out and push the button? 🙂

  2. On Tuesday Jan 19 2010, Shaykh Ahmad Hassoun, Mufti of Syria, stood infront of an American delegation led by the Orthodox Rabbi Marc Gopin and insulted the Prophet Muhammad (salallahu alayhi wasallam).

    During his Friday sermon on Jan 22, Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi addressed in detail the remarks and subsequent justifications made by the Mufti of Syria. The Shaykh ended his speech by asking Mufti Hassoun to resign his job out of embarrassment before Allah and His Messenger (salallahu alayhi wasallam) and to protect the dignity of Islam and the integrity of the Ulema of Syria.

    As a direct result of rebutting the outrageous remarks made against the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasallam), the following day Shaykh Muhammed al-Yaqoubi was dismissed from his job as Friday speaker.

    Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi is a world-renowned Sunni scholar and spiritual guide on the Shadhili path; a charismatic international public speaker in both Arabic and English, he is well known for his encyclopaedic knowledge and wisdom.

    Please check the link for further information and make dua that Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) protect the religion of our Master Muhammed (salallahu alayhi wasallam) from blasphemy.

    http://www.sacredkn owledge.co. uk

  3. Your false prophet Mo is a blasphemer, Abu, and has deceived many including, apparently, you.

    Islam is to be destroyed in accordance with God’s prophetic will and purpose – muslims are invited to repent of their sins and accept God’s free gift of salvation and eternal life through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross (that allah & Mo blasphemously deny).

    Nothing can protect islam from the judgements to come, such as but not limited to Ezekiel 38 & 39, Isaiah 17:1 and Psalm 83 …

    http://www.acwitness.org/psalm83english.html

    Flee from islam, its evil god and its false prophet. Run for your life!

  4. Mullah, my brother, Mozies underscore our Lord’s statement: “For the Son of Man came to seek and save that which was LOST.”

    Satan has them in his grip. But what I find astounding is that they read of Moey’s (their prophet) sexual escapades and murder sprees and they attribute it to godliness. If that is godliness, what have they left for debauchery?

    We MUST intensify our Lord’s message of salvation as many of them are coming to Christ in these last days we live in through dreams and visions of the Lord.

  5. “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.” — Bukhari 9.84.57

    ‘baddala deenahu, faqtuhulu’

    Sheikh Ahmed Hassoun was permitted to speak at the EU parliament in Strassbourg:

    Grand Mufti of Syria: “a single civilisation unites us all…”

    A true taqiyya slimeball!

    http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=IM-PRESS&reference=20080111IPR18241&language=EN

    This is the same ‘grand mufti’ who scared the EUro dhimwits out of their wits over Wilders film FITNA:

    Euro-dhimmies ban showing of FITNA

    http://sheikyermami.com/2008/12/17/euro-dhimmies-ban-showing-of-fitna/

    Syria’s Grand Mufti warns EU-Dhimmi’s to restrict Free Speech. Or else…

    http://sheikyermami.com/2008/01/16/syrias-grand-mufti-warns-eu-dhimmis-to-restrict-free-speech/

    Oaths and treaties with Muhammedans:

    Bukhari:V7B67N427 “The Prophet said, ‘If I take an oath and later find something else better than that, then I do what is better and expiate my oath.’”, Qur’an 9:3 “Allah and His Messenger dissolve obligations.”, Qur’an 66:2 “Allah has already sanctioned for you the dissolution of your vows.”, Bukhari:V4B52N268 “Allah’s Apostle said, ‘War is deceit.’”, Ishaq:519 “Having got Muhammad’s permission, he said, ‘I must tell lies.’ The Apostle said, ‘Tell them.’”, Ishaq:323 “I am the best of plotters. I deceived them with My guile so that I delivered you from them.”, Ishaq:442 “By Muhammad’s order we beguiled them.”

    The honour of Islam lies in insulting kufr and kafirs. One who respects the kafirs dishonours the Muslims… The real purpose of levying jiziya on them is to humiliate them to such an extent that they may not be able to dress well and to live in grandeur. They should constantly remain terrified and trembling. It is intended to hold them under contempt and to uphold the honour and might of Islam.–

    Sufi saint Ahmad Sirhindi (1564-1624), letter #163

    “If politeness and ceremony be observed toward Mohammedans, they imagine they are feared and become arrogant; but in showing severity and rudeness, they are impressed with fear and respect, and they are supple and manageable.”

    –North China Herald,1867

  6. SPIEGEL Interview with Syrian Grand Mufti

    SPIEGEL leftards display deferential, submissive behavior when confronted with a bearded soldier of Allah who oozes authority and laughs in their feminine student faces. Grand Mufti Sheikh Hassoun is a nasty piece of work, and quality journo’s with leftist mental baggage are in no way up to the task of getting something of value out of him:

    ‘Assad Could Step Down After Free Elections’

    Grand Mufti Sheikh Hassoun, the highest Islamic authority in Syria and a close confidant of embattled President Bashar Assad, talked to SPIEGEL about the threat of civil war, possible suicide bombings in Europe and his son’s murder at the hands of Islamist insurgents.

    For some he is a holy man, for others he is little more than a rabble-rouser. But no one can dispute that Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddine Hassoun, 62, is one of the most important men in Syria, a man who, as the country’s most senior religious scholar and a close political advisor to President Bashar Assad, plays a role in shaping war and peace in his country and in the entire Middle Eastern region.

    Sheik Hassoun, a Sunni religious scholar at Al-Azhar University in Cairo and a member of parliament for eight years, has always found conciliatory words in the West. He sharply criticized the term “Holy War” in front of the European Parliament, saying: “Only peace is holy.” At the Ecumenical Church Congress in Munich, he impressed fellow participants with his plea for interfaith dialogue and stunned German bishops with the proposal that the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) should remove the letter C from its name, for reasons of secularism.

    Now, in October, Hassoun has adopted a decidedly different tone in his homeland. The following passage was leaked from the eulogy he gave for his son Saria, who had been killed by militant regime opponents: “The moment the first (NATO) missile hits Syria, all the sons and daughters of Lebanon and Syria will set out to become martyrdom-seekers in Europe and on Palestinian soil. I say to all of Europe and to the US: We will prepare martyrdom-seekers who are already among you, if you bomb Syria or Lebanon. From now on, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

    SPIEGEL was able to accompany the grand mufti through Aleppo last week, a rare opportunity to get a close-up look at the dramatic changes in the country that, as former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once said, is the key to peace in the Middle East.

    State of Emergency

    Syria is in a state of emergency. An uprising has been raging for the last eight months, in which at least 3,000 people have already died, according to UN estimates. But now Syria is also disintegrating into surreal juxtapositions. There have been bloody clashes in cities like Homs, Hama and Latakia, while Amnesty International is reporting cases of torture, even in hospitals, as well as kidnapping and tribal conflicts. The 4,000-year-old city of Aleppo, a crossroads on the legendary Silk Road, feels like a city that is nervously in limbo, sniffing the air to see what comes next: peace on parole.

    In the winding alleys beneath the citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage site, tradesman and merchants are putting on a defiant show of normalcy, while at the same time exchanging the local currency for US dollars on the black market. An eerie silence prevails in the painstakingly restored Ottoman-era mansions that have been converted into boutique hotels.

    Church bells ring almost simultaneously with the call of the muezzin. Catholic and Orthodox Christian churches are sprinkled here and there among the many mosques. In the markets, women in full veils jostle next to others in miniskirts and high heels. The armed struggle seems endlessly far away at first, but then its presence is suddenly very close, as sirens pierce the air and ambulances bring the dead and wounded from a bloody battle only 15 kilometers from the center of Aleppo.

    No Sign of Any Calm

    Are the denominations also being played off against one another in this heated atmosphere? Could the Sunni majority, 71 percent of the population, be about to take its revenge on the Alawite minority (12 percent), to which the presidential family of authoritarian rulers for the last 40 years belongs?

    Last Wednesday, the government agreed to a peace plan proposed by the Arab League. But there is no sign of the situation becoming any calmer; bloody battles erupted once again after Friday prayers.

    The grand mufti meets with us in the office of his apartment near the university. He is sitting in front of a large set of bookshelves, interrupted only by calligraphy that reads, in Arabic: “God teaches us everything, including the best way to use language.” The talks with the grand mufti span two afternoons. They are periodically interrupted when, for example, the conversation turns to the death of his son and the mufti is overcome with sadness, or more rarely, when a visitor arrives, delivers a letter and, according to tradition, kisses the religious leader’s hand. A friend of the mufti who everyone calls George — not a Muslim, but an Armenian Christian — acts as an interpreter.

    SPIEGEL: Sheikh Hassoun, at least 3,000 people have died in Syria since March. Can civil war still be averted?

    Hassoun: It is possible, but then all sides must truly desire peace. The government has just agreed to take the first step: It will withdraw the army and all tanks from city centers. One has to be aware of how it all began to understand how long the path to reconciliation still is. Some forces, especially abroad, have an interest in further escalation.

    SPIEGEL: What do you mean?

    Hassoun: In March, there was a completely justified, peaceful rally in Daraa against the governor of the region, who had thrown schoolchildren into prison. Daraa is a town near the Jordanian border known for smuggling. I went there right away and brought calm to the situation, and I promised the people an independent investigation. At my suggestion, the president removed the governor from office. But then imams who had come from abroad, especially Saudi Arabia, stirred things up with their inflammatory speeches. The news channels stationed in the Gulf states, Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, helped them by falsely claiming that the clergy was on the side of the anti-Assad protesters.

    SPIEGEL: Are you saying that the uprising against Assad was not triggered by regime repression but is being controlled from abroad?

    Hassoun: Look at the second center of unrest, next to Daraa: Homs. That city is also very close to the border, in this case with Lebanon. Unpleasant elements — Iraqis, Afghans, Saudis and Yemenis — have also come from there, all with a radical, fundamentalist agenda. The provocateurs even attacked police chiefs and military officers in their homes.

    SPIEGEL: It sounds like a conspiracy theory, with which you are trying to gloss over the failure of the Assad regime.

    Hassoun: The government is not as you describe it. But it has made political and economic mistakes and did not liberalize quickly and comprehensively enough. The president is taking responsibility for that.

    SPIEGEL: You say this to him in your private conversations?

    Hassoun: It is well known that I generally support the president’s policies. But when I feel the need to criticize and correct, I do so. Take, for example, the need to improve the living conditions of poorer classes and the treatment of dissidents. There is an old guard in our government circles. These people are impediments and must be isolated.

    SPIEGEL: And the president listens to you? We have the impression that he is resistant to advice from others.

    Hassoun: I don’t think he clings to his position that much.

    Armed Struggle ‘Wouldn’t Stand a Chance’

    SPIEGEL: In your view, under what circumstances would Assad be willing to step down — a condition that many insurgents have made and that is shared by US President Barack Obama and European politicians?

    Hassoun: I am convinced that he will gradually introduce reforms, allow free and fair elections with independent parties, and then, after a peaceful transition, he might be willing to step down. He’s no president for life. Bashar Assad, a former eye doctor, wants to return to his old profession. I can easily imagine it. In fact, he has told me several times about his dream of running an eye clinic.

    SPIEGEL: At the moment, however, he has been very hesitant in agreeing to reforms. Under massive pressure from the Arab League, he agreed to end the violence within the next two weeks. Did Assad underestimate the scope of revolutionary change in the Middle East? Did you, too, fail to anticipate that the region’s authoritarian rulers could be swept away?

    Hassoun: Oh, the Arab League and the so-called Arab Spring. In my opinion, the League is deeply divided, into a wing that sees itself primarily in opposition to Israel, and another one that positions itself against supposed Iranian dominance. Since the League is so concerned about Syria, where is its outcry over Yemen and Bahrain, where the conditions are much worse? And what has really improved in Egypt? Should we welcome the rise of Islamist parties? I believe in the strict separation of church and state.

    SPIEGEL: Not all Islamists are enemies of democracy. The winners of the election in Tunis have committed themselves to pluralism, and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara largely practices this pluralism.

    Hassoun: I was in Turkey nine months ago and met with almost all the top politicians. And I have to admit that I was very impressed.

    SPIEGEL: Your northern neighbor has sided with Assad’s opponents. Turkey is allowing the so-called Free Syrian Army to organize attacks against northern Syria from its territory. It is also harboring the Syrian National Council, the joint opposition group, which announced its formation in Istanbul a few months ago.

    Hassoun: Yes, I was very surprised and outraged about that. This so-called national council doesn’t even have a political program. I say to them: Show us something, negotiate with the Assad regime over a realistic timetable, and then let the people decide who has the more convincing ideas.

    SPIEGEL: At least a portion of the Assad opponents now seem to favor a Libyan scenario, an armed struggle …

    Hassoun: … which doesn’t stand a chance. Assad isn’t Gadhafi, and Syria isn’t comparable with Libya. We are a great cultural nation, and bloody revolutions aren’t our style. Besides, we have a functioning, tradition-conscious and loyal army.

    SPIEGEL: That’s what you say, but many soldiers have joined the resistance movement.

    Hassoun: How many, 50 or 55? We’re talking about an army of tens of thousands of men. But some of the radical Sunni imams from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region are stirring people up, and unfortunately they are finding a few Sunni imams in my country who sympathize with them. For instance, they have pronounced a fatwa against me, because in their view I am betraying religion and am too moderate. But I’m not the only one on their hit list.

    SPIEGEL: Who else?

    Hassoun: They set their sights on my innocent son Saria, a 22-year-old student who was always friendly to everyone, who was studying International Relations and did not want to make religion his profession. So much for the kin liability you’ve criticized elsewhere! Oh, if only the four killers had killed me instead!

    During the late afternoon, the grand mufti has other appointments: condolence visits with a Christian and a Muslim family. In the evening, he will have to comfort his wife once again, who is completely distraught over the death of Saria. He was the youngest of the couple’s five sons, and the only one still living at home. Saria’s fellow students are holding a vigil at his stone sarcophagus, even now, four weeks after the murder. The young man’s last resting place can be found in the courtyard of a modest mosque. Sheikh Hassoun visits this sad place every day: a despairing father, an impassioned preacher, a man who with his words can set fires and can put out fires. He continues the interview the next day.

    SPIEGEL: Why did you threaten to send suicide bombers to Europe and the United States in your speech at the gravesite?

    Hassoun: I didn’t threaten to send suicide bombers. I merely described a scenario in which it could easily emerge from the situation, and I warned against what could happen. Sentences were taken out of context and given a different coloring. Besides, the context to which my remark applied was a self-defense situation: a possible NATO attack on Syria …

    SPIEGEL: … which former American presidential candidate John McCain as well as some of the members of the Syrian opposition operating abroad have already talked about.

    Hassoun: If it comes to that, the world will explode. There will be an enormous bloodbath, and it will also affect you in the West. That’s why Europe, in particular, should be more involved in the region. The Europeans would be better peace brokers than the Arab League.

    SPIEGEL: Back to your eulogy …

    Hassoun: … the character of which is being distorted by the sentences you cited. I wasn’t interested in inciting people to go to war, but in reconciliation — even with the murderers of my son Saria. “For those who killed him, I ask God that they not be forced to drink from the same cup as I do, this cup of suffering,” I said. “I ask God to forgive you.” And I called upon all parents whose sons carry weapons: “Make sure that they no longer use their guns.”

    SPIEGEL: But you also claimed that what the murderers were targeting was “not Saria, but Syria. They want Syria to bow down to Zionism and America.” If you believe that the killers are Sunni extremists, why are you accusing Israel and the United States?

    Hassoun: There are close ties between the Saudi royal family and the American White House. The Americans are often on the side of the oppressors. I am always on the side of the oppressed.

    SPIEGEL: What does that mean for your role in Syria?

    Hassoun: I see myself as the grand mufti of all 23 million Syrians, not just Muslims, but also Christians and even atheists. I am a man of dialogue. Who knows, maybe an agnostic will convince me with better arguments one day, and I’ll become a non-believer. And if I’m enthusiastic about the opposition’s political platform, I also might change sides.

    SPIEGEL: What do you want your legacy as a religious scholar to be?

    Hassoun: The bloodshed has to stop! If I could manage to bring about peace, I’d be happy to let my enemies kill me — I’d be happy to give my life for that!

    SPIEGEL: Sheikh Hassoun, we thank you for this interview.

    Interview conducted by Erich Follath in Aleppo, Syria

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