Shaykh Sariya al-Rifa`i warns al-Assad

Inside an old Damascus mosque, Sheikh Sariya Al Rifai departs from state-sanctioned sermons to warn President Bashar Al Assad that the whole country will rise up against him if he does not halt a bloody clampdown against protesters. “Beware … all of Syria will erupt if you don’t stop. I hold the leadership responsible for every drop of spilled blood,” Sheikh Rifai said in a sermon marking dawn prayers on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, just as tanks rolled into the Sunni Muslim bastion of Hama. “I never imagined that the leadership of this country would give such a gift to its people and country … blood spilling into the streets of Hama and other provinces.” Sheikh Rifai’s comments earlier this month inside the Zaid Bin Thabet mosque were seen on an Internet video and confirmed to Reuters by worshippers who attended the prayer service. A pillar of a conservative religious establishment linked to the state, Sheikh Rifai comes from a long line of Koran scholars who have taught generations of devout followers and refrained from challenging the iron rule of the Assad family. But as the civilian death toll from a crackdown on five months of protests rose past 1,700, Sheikh Rifai joined 19 leading clerics to sign a rare petition, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, blaming President Assad for wreaking carnage on the eve of Ramadan, “the month of mercy and compassion.”

– http://english.alara…/17/162669.html

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