BBC News reports: While the Syrian conflict has been characterised by fighting between the Sunni majority and ruling Alawite minority, it has also given birth to some movements which aim to bridge the sectarian divide, as Samer Mohajer and Ellie Violet Bramley report from Beirut.
Nabeel, a 24-year-old Alawite doctor from Homs, describes how he and other Syrian activists first decided to start campaigning against the regime of Bashar al-Assad in the summer of 2011.
“A bunch of us were having coffee in Homs,” he said. “We wanted to have some influence on our revolution, so we tried to do something to express ourselves, to express our opinions.”
The result was the creation of the Nabd (or Pulse) Gathering for Syrian Civil Youth – one of the many cross-sectarian movements that have emerged from Syria’s 18-month-long revolt.
They are designed to campaign against the regime, but also to promote unity among Syria’s religious sects in the face of the increasing role of foreign and jihadi fighters and the characterisation of the struggle along sectarian lines.
“We started our work in Homs, addressing the dangerous subject of sectarianism,” explained Nabeel. “We organised some protests involving guys and girls from all sects, distributed flyers and put posters up. We campaigned against violence and distributed flowers.”
Next came a sit-in, in the Khaldiyeh neighbourhood of Homs attacked by security forces, and a week of national unity.
Quickly, “things escalated until we had cells in every city – Damascus, Salamiyah [an Ismaili Muslim town], and Latakia [an Alawite centre],” said Nabeel. [Continue reading…]