Last week we printed an article by Eric Margolis, Secrets of the Syrian War, and a cartoon depicting King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia oppressing Shiâ€™a in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
We received a lot of contact from the Syrian community here in the US, complaining that the article by Mr. Margolis was inaccurate, argued things that are untrue, and frames the Syrian revolution as the outgrowth of specific interests, namely Western powers and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The phone calls we received were very polite, and yet addressed the heartfelt concerns of the expatriate Syrian community in the United States, that the revolution in Syria is in fact an act of God, like the other revolutions of the Arab Spring, a movement that grew very organically from the oppression of the people themselves–and not from any materialistic group which is seeking to promote its own interests.
We believe the core concern of the complaints that we received was that the Margolis article portrayed the Syrian revolution as a proxy war of cold-blooded interests, rather than as an act of humanitarian resistance against decades of oppression by people who, by standing up, take tremendous risks for themselves and their families. Yet they continue to stand up, because they want to live free from oppression.
While the revolution may receive some outside support, the outside support is secondary and minimal–this conflict is between the people and their oppressor, not between competing international political interests.
One caller asked how we can print an article by a non-Muslim about this issue.
The policy of TMO has always been to represent all Muslims, Sunni and Shiâ€™a, under the philosophy that it is dangerous to the entire community to be divided on sectarian lines. Also our intention is to be the newspaper of all ethnicities of the Muslim community.
Unfortunately it is easy for us, not being Syrian ourselves, to overlook issues that are deeply offensive to the Syrian community, and for that we are deeply sorry. We are aware of the pain felt by the expatriate Syrian community, whose families are at risk, and many of whom have lost loved ones in this revolution. And we say that we deeply value the Syrian community, a community that Prophet (s) himself blessed, and a community that has supported TMO.
We failed to realize the deep pain that printing such an article would have on the Syrian community, who are our brothers and sisters.
When we print articles we intend to shed light on different situations affecting the Muslim world, from different perspectives. We sometimes print articles that we do not agree with word for word or idea by idea. However, to be honest, after reading the Margolis article we simply did not realize it would cause offense.
We did recently publish an article describing the murder by the Syrian regime of relatives of a local family. We also have cooperated with Nauman Shamsuddin Syed, who has travelled to Turkey to try to help the medical treatment of Syrian refugees and to examine the current medical treatment available there.
We offer our sincere apologies to anyone who was offended by the Margolis article and the cartoon of the same week, and we are now seeking to find writers from the Syrian opposition to write about the events there from a more informed point of view.