Ali al-Hajj - DAMASCUS: There are places in Damascus where you can find the banners and slogans condemning the brutal violence of the Syrian security forces against peaceful protesters. In those cellars, built during the Ottoman Turkish rule before Syria gained her independence, the young people of the Syrian revolution meet to discuss their struggle against Bashar Al-Assad's regime. The dictator has revealed his true face; one of a mafiosa family that will do anything to cling on to power and augment their gains.
In those places, you can ask the questions that being asked by the outside world, questions that are also bubbling to the surface for Syrians who have not yet participated in the uprisings calling for change. These are questions of the future; what kind of state are the protesters asking for, fighting for without turning to weapons, violence, repression, torture or detention?
If you stopped an enthusiastic young man, nearing his thirties, and asked him about the nature of the future Syrian state and its relationship vis-à-vis religion, he will immediately reply "We want a secular state supported God... the God of all religions!!"
Do not overlook the new generations of Syrians; they are young men and women who neither consider religion to be an enemy of the people, nor do they adopt the slogan of "Islam is the answer," suggested by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Instead, these young people believe in a broad sense of what it means to be "Syrian" in a society made up of various religions, sects and ethnicities, living in close quarters.
The ongoing discussions between Syrian revolutionaries don't mention "disappointment" with Assad's recent third speech, nor "anger" with his words. These revolutionaries delight in Assad's mistakes; he is proving to the world that he is not able to carry out real reform and that his regime can only be maintained though killing, torture and repression.
Young Syrian revolutionaries have a broad vision for the future of their country. They view their state as an easy endeavor; a combination of Western projects supporting coexistence between different religious and cultural groups, and the creation of a new kind of "state" that in no way resembles the failed Arab state that has been the status quo for many long years.
Syrian revolutionaries view the future of conflict in the Middle East in a new light. They believe that the conflict with Israel is chiefly political, and that it has grown over the years due to a lack of a sustainable solution. They blame fanatical Arab Nationalist thought, which has dominated the issue, and the various religious trends that were encouraged by the same line of thought. The Arab-Israeli conflict should be solved politically, based on the principle of coexistence. This is not very different from the coexistence we witness between other ethnicities and national groups in the region. Young people do not see it as a religious war, as Arab dictators portrayed it!
The revolutionaries of Damascus believe that the Syria of the future will be part of a new world, rather than a remote island living in the dark ages. In their secret meetings, they long for a Syria that breathes religious moderation, a Syria that is a home for the development of political ideas.
The author is a Syrian journalist writing from Damascus under a pseudonym. This article was translated from Arabic and edited by Meedan.