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Why I distance myself from Al-Quds day

Quraysha Ismail Sooliman – Opinion | 02 August 2013

“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”
Malcolm X

Having attended the Amec Parliamentary Portfolio Seminar for 2 days in which the issues in the Middle East were covered extensively and with significant transparency, I have decided not to support Al-Quds day which is an Iranian initiated and driven project.

This is not a decision based on furthering or entrenching sectarian divides but is a decision that requires taking a principled stand against injustice.

That’s because justice is never negotiable, you either fight FOR it or you oppose it. We cannot be fence- sitters.

Nor can we be pro this or that, we have to be pro-justice, because loyalties to people, regimes, ideologies and acquaintances are easily bought and traded.

Since the Iranian revolution, for more than 30yrs the Iranians have made vocal statements against Israel but have not done much more. Iran claims to be a defender of Islam and Muslims, but has chosen to openly support a vicious dictator and together with Hezbollah has sent its soldiers to Syria to participate in the brutal massacre of civilians; to date more than 120 000 Sunni Muslims have been killed by Asads and this has been achieved with the aid of the two foreign forces.

I fully acknowledge the supply of weapons to extremist forces (and not the Free Syrian Army) by the Arab regimes that are determined to protect their own illegitimacy by doing everything possible to prevent the rise of the Free Syrian Army because an Islamist Sunni government in Syria will lead to the downfall of these regimes soon thereafter.

But, in the case of Syria, my position is that weapons given to an unarmed population fighting against a brutal dictator is welcome.

Also, the Arab regimes and their fighters are NOT slaughtering civilians and I have never heard them claim to be the defenders of the Muslims and Palestinians against the US and Israel with the same kind of rhetoric employed by Iran. If one supports the oppressed Palestinians, then by logic one must defend against the injustice perpetrated by Asad against the oppressed Syrians as well. Since Asad signed a ceasefire with Israel more than 30 yrs ago, Syria has never violated the ceasefire. Basically, the Syrian regime has been a “good neighbour” to Israel even when Israel bombs Syrian territory and civilians every now and then. Furthermore, what happened in Bahrain and what the Sunni regimes did is wrong and despicable; we cannot support any injustice, anywhere. In Bahrain, Iran said a Sunni minority cannot rule a Shia majority, yet in Syria, Iran supports a 15% Alawite minority to suppress an 85% Sunni majority.

Are the lives of the Syrian people a tit for tat for the Bahraini uprising? That is even more despicable.

Furthermore, the Palestinians, specifically Hamas has distanced itself from Iran and Hezbollah because of their participation in and support for the brutal Assad regime. This decision was not taken lightly and Khaled Mishal stated that the finger of one child in Syria is dearer to the Palestinians than any dollars the Iranians wish to offer Hamas. Furthermore, if Iran was so sincere in supporting the Palestinians, when Hamas refused to participate in Iran’s PR stunt in Tehran, why did Iran persist in all efforts to weaken Hamas and try and overthrow Hamas leaders in Lebanon?

About two months ago, Sheikh Rai’d Salaah; the most eminent Palestinian leader in Jerusalem told Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to create a new Al Quds day on a different day so that the Sunni world could follow that, clearly indicating that the Palestinians have distanced themselves from Asad and Iran.

One cannot claim support for one injustice (the Palestinian conflict) whilst perpetuating and supporting another injustice, through reinforcements to a brutal dictator to murder innocents (Syrian conflict).

I thus distance myself from all Iranian activities and celebrations that claim to be defending injustice in Palestine whilst perpetuating injustice in Syria.

While Iran claims to be crying for Palestine, the Palestinians are crying for the Syrians and they themselves have distanced themselves from the Iranians and Hezbollah and certainly from Al-Quds day.

In balancing justice against awareness, for any cause, I choose justice.

Quraysha Ismail Sooliman is Assistant Lecturer, Political Science at the University of Pretoria

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