The Arab Spring has sprung. But for us, it has been mostly doom and gloom, an extended winter.

Throughout the Middle East, we have seen an uprising against the established order. In most cases, these uprisings have been overdue as the tyrants had their collective feet on the necks of the populace. What is disturbing though is what has replaced these regimes.

From Libya to Egypt, it appears that tyranny has replaced tyranny. All that has changed is who is wearing the boot. This is especially true for religious minorities, just ask the Copts in Egypt.

As we know, the Arab Spring has moved on with its focus on Syria. There is a bitter civil war and as Syria has been at the forefront of most of our miseries in the region, we as a nation have generally been supportive of the rebels. This line of reasoning is similar to our approach in Libya, Qaddafi was a thorn in our side and his ouster was a blessing. Now, Libya does not appear to be such a blessing. So who are these rebels in Syria?

Like Libya, there does not appear to be any critical questioning about the rebels, better known as the “Free Syria Army.”  What can we expect if they win? The rebels are mostly compromised of Sunni Muslims, which is the dominant religion in Syria. And within the Sunni faction is the Muslim Brotherhood. Does this group sound familiar?  If this faction prevails, in one sense it would be a triumph for us but in another, not so much. Also, how would life change in Syria for the ordinary citizen? For the Sunnis, life’s prospects would greatly improve; for those of other religious groups, especially the Alawi clan, life itself will be in jeopardy.

As Egypt has shown us, when the hard line Islamists seize control, they are quick to place religious minorities under their thumb. In Syria, the Alawis, Christians and Kurds make up about thirty-five percent of the populace; and they all will suffer persecution under Sunni rule. You can take that to the bank. The Christians and Kurds have long known what it is to live under religious domination, but what about the Alawi?

As some may know the Alawis make up the power base of the Assad regime. In this regard, they are in line for pay back. However, besides their abuse of power, they would be singled out for retribution as their religious practices (which are a form of Islam) are considered heretical. The Alawi are a Muslim faith that also follows many Christian tenets. Christmas, Palm Sunday and Easter are celebrated. Like Catholics, they celebrate the Bread and Wine in their services. Many Muslim tenets such as fasting, daily prayer and pilgrimage are not strictly followed (Wiki Facts). In essence, this is a brand of Islam at odds with tradition and it will not be tolerated by the fundamentalist. So even those Alawi that did not enjoy in the fruits of the Assad regime would be subject to revenge.

At first blush, the Arab Spring seemed like an awakening that would lead to freedom for all. What is becoming more apparent as each day passes is that one form of tyranny is being replaced by another. The first to feel the effects are religious minorities.

One of Syria’s current symbols is the eagle. Is it to be replaced by the Muslim Brotherhood’s sword? And if so, what are the consequences not only for us but for those that do not subscribe?

 
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