In April, an anti-sectarian organization called United Against Sectarian Intolerance (UASI) was launched, comprising Syrian and non-Syrian individuals.
According to its website, the organization aims to combat sectarian and racial intolerance in all its forms, expose associated violations, raise public awareness of the diseases of sectarian and racial intolerance, and promote the values of tolerance and citizenship.
Syrians have reacted in different ways to this organization. Some criticized the idea of calling for a stand against sectarian intolerance, considering them “unrealistic” demands in the Syrian situation. These critics asked the organization to monitor the many massacres committed by the Syrian regime over the past 10 years on sectarian grounds.
Others said that the timing of the organization’s work had come “late” for Syria, as its anti-sectarian mandate should have made people aware of the problem before everything that happened.
The secretary-general of UASI, Dr. Abdul Karim Bakkar, said that the organization was officially registered less than a month ago. It operates as a cultural organization and not a political one. It is not a Syrian organization but an international one, to which people from 12 countries – including Arab states – are members.
Bakkar explained that the basic idea of establishing this organization is to resist the waves of sectarian, racial, tribal, regional, and ethnic intolerance. The organization responds to a clear trend around the world towards strong sectarian and ethnic divisions. He added that one of the organization’s primary aspirations is to establish an observatory for sectarian and racist activities, while also cooperating with international organizations to produce various documents condemning racism and sectarianism.
Dr. Bakkar was not surprised by the controversy created by the establishment of UASI amongst the Syrian public. He told Enab Baladi, “We were aware that we are breaking across red lines and into a dangerous area. But we were led to establish the organization out of adherence to our values and principles, which we believe in deeply, and our outlook for the future. We are working towards creating a common space where people coexist even if they differ in their beliefs, ideas, and aspirations.”
“Logic, reason, religion, morality, and understanding all dictate that we cannot kill an innocent human being on sectarian grounds,” Bakkar said, adding that only fanatical minds can accept these transgressions.
“Our organization stands with the oppressed, regardless of their affiliation, language, race, and beliefs. We oppose the oppressor along the same lines. And we will do as much as we can, as far as circumstances permit.”
Not for “normalization with the regime”
Bakkar stressed that the organization does not endorse normalization with the Syrian regime, as some have portrayed it. Bakkar explained that it is not a Syrian institution in the first place, and its concerns are not just Syria. While Syria is part of the organization’s concern, it also addresses people of various nationalities from Arab and foreign countries, such as Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Lebanon, Tunisia, Algeria, Great Britain, Qatar, Austria, and Turkey, amongst others.
According to Bakkar, the organization is not interested in bringing ideas, doctrines and beliefs closer together. It has nothing to do with the unification of religions or the Abrahamian religion, which it considers incorrect fundamentally, and therefore inapplicable.
Bakkar said that the organization believes that every human being can believe what they want. They should not, however, use their beliefs as a launching pad for injustice, arrogance, arrogance, marginalization, exclusion, and denial of opportunities.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.