On October 2, 2018, I met with the Grand Mufti of Syria, Dr. Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun, a scholar and man of compassion whose words should be heard widely.
Mufti Hassoun spoke of Syria’s rich mosaic of cultures and faiths, and of Syria’s history of plurality and coexistence, in contrast to the sectarianism emanating from Gulf states, in particular Saudi Arabia.
As it happened, October 2 is the anniversary of the martyrdom of Mufti Hassoun’s son, who, as I wrote previously:
“…’had never carried a weapon in his life,’ gunned-down after leaving his university.
In a public address at the funeral the next day, Mufti Hassoun, while weeping, forgave the gunmen and called on them to lay down their weapons and re-join Syria. The following day, he received a text message saying the assassins would kill him as they had killed his son.
A year later, when two of the gunmen were caught, the Mufti went to speak with them. Again bestowing his forgiveness and asking only to know why they had murdered Saria, Mufti Hassoun learned that the assassins were simply following orders from Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and were paid for their dirty work, one thousand dollars per person. Embodying the forgiveness he preaches, the Mufti asks for their pardon and release.”
In this interview, I felt the need to ask Mufti Hassoun to address the lies and distortions about Mufti Hassoun’s words which the Zionist platform, MEMRI, was responsible for disseminating years ago—incidentally right after Saria’s murder, when Mufti Hassoun warned the West that the terrorism sent to Syria would one day come back to haunt the West.
MEMRI completely mistranslated the Mufti’s words; Western corporate media ran with that mistranslation; all are guilty of war propaganda, and of a gross injustice to this man of peace.
Below are articles I’ve written on Mufti Hassoun:
-The real Syrian moderates: voices of reason
“Mufti Hassoun calls his Greek Orthodox counterpart, Bishop Luca al-Khoury, his cousin and brother. “Our grandfathers, 1,400 years ago, were one family. My grandfather embraced Islam and his remained Christian.” He maintains that he, as Grand Mufti, serves the Syrian people, period. “In Syria, there are 23 million Christians, and 23 million Muslims. My title is Grand Mufti of the Syrian Arab Republic, not the Mufti of a particular denomination.”
-Excerpts from US delegation visit to Syria, February 2015
Grand Mufti, Sheikh Ahmad Badr al-Din Hassoun, is an approachable man, usually wearing a broad smile or mirthful half-smile. He calls himself the Mufti of all Syrians, not solely of Syria’s Muslims. Having met Sara Flounders previously, Sheikh Hassoun embraces her with a friendly squeeze of both shoulders and big smile. Recognizing me from a visit last year, he welcomes me the same way, beaming widely.
We take our seat and listen as he welcomes us with the standard Arab hospitality of well-wishes and gratitude for our concern and our visit at this time of crisis. Then, he breaks from formality, the mirthful smile present, to tease Ramsey:
“Anyone who reaches his seventies in such good health has a girlfriend in addition to his wife.” Mufti Hassoun laughs louder than all of us, clearly enjoying our collective shock.
He resumes seriousness, speaking of his country, ‘a beautiful garden’.
“Today we are paying a tax due to our having the richest culture in the region. We never expected that terrorists from outside Syria—from our Arab brothers and those west of them, particularly from USA, Turkey and England—would come here to make unrest. The Syrian people did not support the terrorists. They are working to destroy not only Syria but humanity. ”
-A journalist’s journey to the heart of Syria
-‘They want to start a religious war. We want to extinguish it.’
“…he’d been granted a prestigious Italian peace prize, by The Ducci Foundation, for his non-sectarian preaching of interfaith peace. But the Mufti never got to Rome. “I was granted a visa for only ten days. They were afraid I’d stay longer. But Europeans are among those killing our people. If all the Syrian people die, it’s okay, no problem, just to keep their oil. I reject this ‘democracy.’ We in Syria are not Sunni or Shia or Allawi nor Muslim nor Christian. We are human beings and must be respected. They want to start a religious war. We are going to extinguish this fire.””