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CC ISSUE: MAR 2012 Last updated: Mar 8, 2012

As Syrian crisis escalates, communities remain vigilant

Eman Sahloul

For months now, our eyes have been plastered to TV screens, phones, and laptops, drained from tears and swollen from sleeplessness. Whispered phone calls of reassurance from family members have deteriorated to nothing more than secretive connect lines from Turkey, Damascus, and Saudi Arabia into Homs. Minds occupied, legs restless, hearts praying.

This past week alone, the towns of Baba Amr and Inshaat in Homs have been under constant and indiscriminate shelling. Hospitals, churches, and mosques bombed. Body counts can’t even be confirmed because more and more are found under the rubble, some dead for more than five days. Those who haven’t been killed silently huddle in their homes starving, unable to leave their homes for fear of being sniped. Electricity is cut completely; there is no water and no heat.

This is Syria today.

We know this.

As such, I wish to write to you not as a Syrian, or an Arab or someone who has lost several family members. I wish to write as simply your Muslim sister.

Allah said, “O you believers! Stand up firmly for God and be witnesses for fair dealing... Being just is next to piety and the fear of God. For God knows well all that you do” (5:8).

It is with this ayat that I encourage, deeply encourage, every Muslim to regard this cause as an obligatory duty from Allah.

Living in America comfortably does not give us the right to look past the injustices occurring in our world on a daily basis. It is our responsibility and the responsibility of humanity to stand up against such aggression. With this mentality, activism becomes natural. Living in Chicago, where there are endless opportunities to help, allows no reason not to get involved.

Among the several projects that are constantly organized, broadcasted, and acknowledged weekly are simple flash mobs and demonstrations to spread awareness and express solidarity, fundraising dinners that have raised millions of dollars, and undemanding blanket and clothes drives aimed to supporting Syrian refugees.

On March 17, there will be an all-day event in D.C., marking the anniversary of the revolution. The event will consist of a demonstration in front of the White House at 11 a.m. followed by a program that will include lunch and dinner, speakers and musical performances. Syrian composer and pianist Malek Jandali has been confirmed to perform, while Pastor Mama Daad was confirmed to speak at the event.

Participating in such effortless projects will inevitably make a difference. Our ummah is suffering, my brothers and sisters. The Syrian people are suffering. I encourage every Chicago Muslim to make it a daily routine to pray for our oppressed brothers and sisters, to partake in events that promote freedom and justice, and to constantly make duaa for peace within our Muslim ummah.

Every little thing counts. If not for yourself, then for your country, if not for your country, then for humanity and inshAllah, with the right intentions, God will be pleased.

“Whosoever sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart – and that is the weakest of faith.” –Prophet Muhammad



Freeze for Humanity

The Prophet Muhammad said, “Whosoever sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue, and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart – and that is the weakest of faith.”

The eruption of the beautiful struggle of the Syrian people on March 15, 2011, marked the beginning of testing the faith of this people. As thousands of Syrians took to the streets, peacefully demanding an end to more than 40 years of oppressive dictatorial rule, the government security forces and army responded with brute force.

As of February 2012, more than 8,000 Syrian men, women and children have been killed; more than 200,000 detained with extremely high chances of torture; and more than 30,000 refugees have fled to neighboring countries.

As Syrians within Syria took action against the government, Syrians abroad began searching for alternative routes to voice the revolution, as foreign media was not allowed into Syria. And so began the organizing of what we called “freeze flash mobs,” where a large group of people stand frozen in place, with signs, posters, flags and props, acting out scenes of arrests, silence and death.

Our intentions of these flash mobs are twofold: is it to raise awareness of the Syrian revolution, and also  to stand in solidarity with the Syrian people. The first is accomplished by the actual flash mob as passersby read stories of martyrs, statistics and slogans. A new addition to the flash mob is the “Ask” campaign, where members of the group walk around and hold conversations with those that have any questions. Feedback to this newly added element has been beautiful, as there is a genuine curiosity as well as exchange of words of prayers and solidarity.

The second goal of these flash mobs is accomplished through the making of a video of our event. This video is our connection to Syrians. This is our way of showing those that are struggling daily that their voices will be heard, that the world is aware of their struggle and that humanity stands with them. Throughout this revolution, many of us have learned that at the end of the day, politics is messy and history is complicated, but a response for the sake of humanity is our duty. And God willing, we are moving in that direction.


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