Syrian Americans Hold Meeting on National Charter, Call for Separation of State and Religion

The participants called for a free, democratic Syria built on the principle of equal citizenship and the rule of law.

A group of distinguished Syrian activists met in Washington D.C. on September 9th-10th, 2022. The group, albeit small, represented the Syrian community from different states.

The participants called for a free, democratic Syria built on the principle of equal citizenship and the rule of law.

This meeting was open to any Syrian who believes in a pluralistic, democratic Syria based on equal citizenship, the rule of law, and respect for human rights. Over the course of two days, the participants discussed and debated, some in person and some over Zoom, what they believe to be prerequisite principles needed to establish a free and Democratic Syria. Twenty-four individuals attended the meeting in person and some 60 attended via Zoom. The meeting was financially covered by the participants themselves, who travelled and stayed in Washington at their expense.

The attendees also discussed issues such as the national identity as it is a birthright that cannot be cancelled, the societal identity, and the secular and civil state. They also talked about citizenship and the difference between the regime’s army and the Syrian army.

The outcome of the two-day conference was the formation of a National Charter of 10 principles.

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The organizers called on Syrians who believe in freedom and justice to join forces to bring about a resolution to the Syrian crisis and reach their goals of overthrowing the dictatorship of the tyrannical Assad regime in their quest to achieve justice.

The organizers say their aim is that this meeting becomes the first step in the course of other meetings that will put together Syrians from the diaspora to weigh on the political solution in Syria.

“We plan to begin serious discussions with the Syrians in Canada, Europe, Turkey, and other places of the diaspora to convene a national congress next year,” Khaldoun al-Aswad, a leading organizer, told The Syria Observer.

“The Syrian community in exile is so rich in knowledge, expertise, and capacity that it can play an essential role in the political future of the country,” Aswad added.

The attendees wanted to put together a document that would make the base for the country they conjure, before focusing on the daily politics.

“We need a basis,” another organizer told The Observer.

“To draw a political program without a national charter will be putting the cart before the horse,” Wael Sawah, Secretary of the American Coalition for Syria (ACS), added.

Participants from outside the United States attended as guests via Zoom.

Hassan al-Aswad, a Syrian lawyer living in Germany who is also Secretary General of the Syrian Council for Change, has helped to plan the conference he attended on Zoom. Aswad told the Syrian-focused SYRIAWISE Publication: “I think that the efforts made by all attendees are commendable and go in the right direction. The participants are to be credited for their quiet work for more than a year and their consultations with a wide spectrum of Syrians. The initiators were subjected to campaigns that questioned their backgrounds, their efforts, and their goals, and this is something we are accustomed to in the Syrian case. However, this will not weaken their support nor stop them from their good efforts.”

An expanded follow-up committee was selected by the participants with the mandate of working to spread the National Pact among all Syrians and to communicate with Syrians in the diaspora and at home to hold a comprehensive conference for Syrians next year.

The Charter called for Syria as an independent, sovereign nation over its nationally recognized borders, conducting its political affairs in the interest of the Syrian people and their mutual values.

It added that Religious freedoms, independence of religious institutions from the government, and the independence of government institutions from religion must be guaranteed.

It emphasized on equality between men and women and called for the supremacy of the rules of law and the principle of equal citizenship.

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