Religious extremism has noticeably increased among armed groups and fighting battalions on the ground in Syria.
Activists say they are trying to understand the reasons behind this phenomenon, especially given it is unfamiliar in Syrian society. Moreover, the transformation of peaceful activists into armed fighters, then members in extreme religious groups has provoked a need to investigate.
Abu Ibrahim, an engineer and battalion leader in Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, said he changed his position.
“I started to believe in the armed struggle when our peaceful demonstrations were faced with extremely violent reactions by the regime. We were put in a position where we couldn't go back; the situation forced us to accept the principles of who those who support us, even if they contradict our own. This was especially true after we were let down and left alone and no one from the so-called civilized world stood by us,” he explained.
Abu Hamza, another battalion leader, explained why his group had raised pictures of Osama bin Laden saying: “I will raise the picture of anyone who gives me weapon to protect my people and children, even if it was Che Guevara.”
Abu Ibrahim described the disastrous situation in Ghouta.
"We see our children die from hunger as a result of the siege Assad’s regime has imposed on us. Our women die while giving birth. There is no medical care or medications. In summary, we were forced in to this direction.”
He added that when the current situation ends, he would stop fighting and work for living.
“All what we wanted was to feel that we are respected citizens in our country” he concluded.
Many people are saying they feel religious extremism in Syria is being unduly concentrated on and presented in its ugliest form by foreign media without studying the reasons behind it andignoring the peaceful elements.
Researchers conclude that extremism is not the genuine character of the Syrian people, and that it would go away once the recent situation ends.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer