Journalist Muntaha al-Atrash, the daughter of Syrian revolution leader Sultan Pasha al-Atrash, died in Damascus after a long career featuring honourable positions. Over time, the Baath regime has tried to marginalize Atrash and keep her away from any diplomatic or political roles or activities.
Many Syrian opposition politicians and activists mourned Atrash’s death, recalling her bold stances against the Assad regime, her support for the Syrian revolution, and her demands for freedom, dignity, and human rights.
Her relative, Saoud Atrash, wrote on his Facebook page: “The free people of Syria and the sons of Jabal al-Arab mourn your passing.” He added that Muntaha’s body will be laid to rest at a funeral, with her burial to occur in the town of al-Qurayya, her hometown, on Thursday at around 10 a.m.
Saoud added: “She lived a very free life and stood with her Syrian people to demand their freedom and dignity, bearing in mind the heritage of her father, Sultan Pasha Atrash, the commander-in-chief of the great Syrian revolution. She was faithful to him to the last breath of her life.”
The mother of the revolutionary youth
Atrash is one of the most prominent symbols of the Syrian revolution, as she was one of the first notable people to declare her explicit position. She did so bravely and publicly, calling for the overthrow of the criminal regime at a time when the voices of the rebellious elites could be counted on one hand.
Atrash followed in her father’s footsteps and quickly sided with the Syrian revolution in 2011. She took this stance after participating in the funerals for slain protesters who were shot dead by Assad’s security services in different cities and regions, including Harasta, Douma, Qaboun, Kiswah, Masaken Barzeh, and the Zabadani area.
Atrash has long regarded herself as “the mother of all young people who carry their lives on their shoulders,” which she adopted because of her positions against Baathist tyranny. The Assad family and security services have been keen to marginalize Atrash and keep her out of the limelight, instead lavishing praise on other local figures.
Atrash was one of the first opposition members to understand Bashar al-Assad’s attempt to play on sectarianism and market himself as the protector of minorities before the international community. In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper in April 2011, Atrash warned of the regime’s nefarious intentions, which followed the principle of “divide and conquer.” She described Assad’s way of confronting the revolution as “sectarian,” saying: “He is playing with fire because playing on sectarianism in Syria will make things spin out of control. In this case, the magic trick may backfire on the magician.”
In 2015, Atrash accused Assad and his regime of responsibility for the assassination of Sheikh Wahid al-Balous, commander of the Dignity Forces, for refusing to send the sons of Sweida to fight alongside Assad’s militias against rebellious cities and towns.
As a result of these positions, Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk, head of the Assad regime’s National Security Office, demanded that Atrash face charges of supporting terrorism and incitement. Despite this, Atrash chose to stay in Damascus, ignoring attempts by Assad’s militias to terrorize her.
Atrash became chair of the Syrian Organization for Human Rights (Swasiya), serving alongside directors Dr. Sadiq Jalal Al-Azm, Dr. Tayeb Tizini, Dr. Ahmed Asem Al-Azm, lawyer Muhannad Al-Hassani, and Mohammed Malas.
Atrash studied media in Egypt, graduating in 1967 from Cairo University before returning to Syria to work for the Syrian agency SANA until her retirement.
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.