The fact that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is an authoritarian dictator is well known and reported widely nearly every day in the mainstream media. What is not being reported is that Assad belongs to a Muslim sect that believes in tolerance toward other religions, such as Christianity.
Assad is an Alawite, a relatively small sect within Islam that comprises roughly 12 percent of the population of Syria. The Alawites are considered to be an offshoot of Shia Islam and are hated by nearly all of the major sects within the Muslim religion.
One of the main sticking points between the Alawites and the rest of Islam is the fact that the Alawites have a long history of living in close proximity to Christians in peace. This has been a characteristic of Syria for centuries and has continued under the Assad regime. Christians have been free to practice their religious beliefs and to live without fear of persecution.
Such tolerance is not a mainstay within the rest of Islam. Many of the Syrian rebels who currently fight to remove the Assad regime are extremists who belong to factions within Islam that wish to kill Christians and Jews, burning down their churches and synagogues. The very same scenario was at play in Egypt.
At the forefront of the Islamic extremists is the Muslim Brotherhood. Despite its attempt to portray itself publicly as a "moderate" group, the Brotherhood is the parent organization of al Qaeda, Hamas, and other violent Islamist groups that believe all "infidels" should be killed.
Of immense importance is the fact that to the Brotherhood, al Qaeda, and other sects within Islam, the Alawites are considered infidels as well, even worse than Christians and Jews. It is no wonder, then, that the Brotherhood, al Qaeda, the Sunnis, and other Islamic groups wish to oust Assad and obliterate the Alawites.
Thus, when it comes to extremist Muslims in Syria, the issue is not and never has been Assad's atrocities. Were al Qaeda or the Brotherhood in power, those atrocities would be multiplied ad infinitum.
Granted, some of the rebel forces fighting against the Assad regime wish to push the country toward self-governance and freedom. This group appears to be a minority, however. If Assad is deposed, it is likely that extremist Islamic forces will control the country, and their actions will assuredly make Assad's "atrocities" pale in comparison to the butchery and slaughter that will occur under the Islamists.
And we can further expect a bloodbath of historic proportions aimed at Christians.
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