Nir Rosen spends time deep inside Syria’s pro-regime Alawite community.
Nir Rosen Last Modified: 12 Oct 2011 13:14
Driving near the high-altitude resort of Slonfeh in the Alawite mountains of the Latakia region, I passed a funeral tent for a Syrian soldier killed in the region the previous week, one of two military “martyrs” Slonfeh had lost to armed opposition activists. When my driver entered the village of Mazar al-Qatriyeh, he asked to be directed towards Sheikh Khalil Khatib, a respected Alawite elder. “Ask the rocks and they will tell you,” said one man. “Everybody knows him.”
The sheikh was an intense old man who lectured me while a television behind him screened the Hezbollah-affiliated al-Manar satellite channel.
“You can be called a sheikh for being old or for being educated,” he explained to me. He blamed religious sheikhs for the crisis in Syria. “They aren’t sheikhs of thought,” he said. “They are sheikhs of air, that’s why Syria has all these problems. I am a sheikh of logic.”