Islamism and the Syrian Uprising

(Foreign Policy) Nir Rosen - James Clapper, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, warned last month of al-Qaeda taking advantage of the growing conflict in Syria. The Syrian regime and its supporters frequently claim that the opposition is dominated by al-Qaeda-linked extremists. Syria's uprising is not a secular one. Most participants are devout Sunni Muslims and often come from conservative areas. A minority is secular and another minority is comprised of ideological Islamists. The majority is made of religious-minded people with little ideology, like most Syrians. They are not fighting to defend secularism or to establish a theocracy. But as the conflict grinds on, Islam is playing an increasing role in the uprising. As the crackdown increases, as the local opposition's sense of abandonment by the outside world increases, and the voices calling for jihad get louder, there will likely be more radicalization. The writer spent four months in Syria reporting on the uprising for al Jazeera.

2012-03-09 00:00:00

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