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Sultan Pasha Al-Atrash (1888-1982)

SWEIDA, (ST) –Sultan Pasha al-Atrash, the leader of the great Syrian Revolution against the Ottoman occupation, was a symbol of patriotism since he believed in resistance as the only way to combat colonialism and restore usurped rights. The leader, who played a major role in the writing down of Syria’s history, was distinguished by the merits of a real national hero. His attitudes were an example to be followed mainly in terms of confronting the schemes which aimed to create sectarian disputes among the Syrians.

In 1910, he joined his father Thoqan al-Atrash in the battles against the Ottoman occupation mainly in al-Kafer battle in al-Swieda governorate .

In 1916 he decided to join the great Arab revolution against the Ottoman occupation, so he called on the Syrian revolutionaries to support their Arab brothers in their struggle against the Ottoman forces.

On September 30th  of 1918, the Syrian leader entered Damascus via al- Meedan neighborhood gate and raised the Arab flag on the city's government house building for the first time after 400 years of Ottoman colonialism.

Sultan Pasha was a good believer in national unity. His motto in his struggle against the French colonialism was ''religion is for God and homeland is for all''. His first statement was a call on all the Arabs to participate in the great Arab revolution regardless their religion or nationality.

Researcher Jamal abu Jahjah, in a book titled ''Sultan al-Atrash a Source of National Feeling '' said  that the leader's motto “religion is for God and homeland is for all” constituted a preface for the Syrian Revolution all over the homeland.

Abu Jahjah pointed out that Sultan's letters to the Syrian revolutionaries aimed at consolidating national unity through rejecting sectarian calls and religious disputes.

 The researcher added that Sultan's potentials as a great leader and as a strong national hero appeared early in his life. He was adherent to national unity and he rejected sectarian calls and believed in armed resistance to restore usurped rights.

In a statement addressing the Syrian revolutionaries Sultan Pasha once said that “experience had proofed that strength was the only way to safeguard our rights, so we must fight if we want to live in dignity and freedom.”

The great leader never gave up in the face of the French colonialism. He was a staunch defender of Syria's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and he urged the Syrians to confront occupiers in his historical statement: ''to the weapon, to the weapon''.

Sultan Pasha al-Atrash called for electing a popular government and a special council for issuing new laws to safeguard citizens’ freedom and rights.

On August 2nd, 1925, he led a battle against the French forces which in turn launched a big military campaign to kill him and his fellows . The 400 Syrian fighters defeated the French forces in al- Mazraa, al-Mssafra, Rssas, and Um-al- Roman battles.

Sultan Pasha al- Atrash led the battles in coordination and cooperation with all the Syrian revolutionaries.

On October 25th 1925, he called for convening al- Sahra conference in al- Sahra valley area, aiming at preserving Syria's independence.

It is to be noted that the leader was born in 1888 in al- Quraia village in southern al- Sweida governorate. His father, Thoqan Pasha al- Atrash was executed by the Ottoman authorities on March 5th, 1911 along with a number of other Arab hero fighters. The great leader died On March 26th, 1982.

Nahla Maaz    

Iqal … Heritage Profession Struggles for Survival

DAMASCUS, (ST) – (Iqal is a headband made of strong thick strings).  Iqal industry is a traditional one. It is threatened with extinction due to a drop in the number of workers in this field and because the limited number of families who hand it down from generation to generation. This industry has become known as the profession of parents and grandparents.

Ahmed Ramadan, 62 years, one of the prominent makers of Iqal at al Borghleyeh market in old Damascus said that this profession requires only simple tools including thread, a manual machine, wooden mould and a hammer.  He pointed out that the profession is more than 200 years old and it is inherited from his ancestors and he tries to pass it on to his sons after him to keep it from extinction.

Khaled Abu Badr, 45 years, has a long tradition in this profession, where he worked in this profession thirty years ago. He pointed out that we rely on the Syrian string, which is unmatched by another thread in the world and it was brought from Aleppo. But now, we rely on the string imported from other countries.

Abu Badr clarified that the profession is almost extinct and very few people who want to learn it because it is tiring and causes pains in the back and spine. This profession requires long hours of standing behind the machine and it also causes injuries to the limbs.

Abu Badr said that the price of Iqal ranges from 100 to 500 Syrian pounds according to the quality of the thread.

Sh. Kh

Pray to God for Syria

Al-SWEIDA, (ST)-With the participation of some Christian and Muslim religious men and a number of social and women parties, the Administrative Bureau of the Women Union in al- Sweida governorate has organized a special ceremony for Syria in the house of the General Leader of the Great Syrian Revolution Sultan Basha al-Atrash in Quraia city.

During the ceremony the religious men pray to god for witnessing an end to the crisis in Syria, for consolidating national unity and for attaining stability in the homeland, Syria, the land of tolerance, peace, fraternity and stability.

'' Syria is the beacon of civilization throughout history'' the religious men asserted, underlining the importance of abiding by the spirit of tolerance in the face of disputes.

 Head the Popular Organizations Bureau at the governorate Hiyam Qtami said the ceremony is important to shed light on Syria's history which is full of sacrifices and heroic attitudes mainly during the Syrian people's struggle against the French and ottoman colonialism.

''Syria is the heart of resistance and this is the real reason behind our ordeal now ,''she added .

 For her part, Dr. Reem al-Atrash, the granddaughter of the great Syrian Revolution's leader, urged adherence to tolerance and reiterated that Syria is for all the Syrians.

''We must spare no effort to preserve our homeland 's unity, sovereignty and independence,'' Dr. Al-Atrash said.

Also on this occasion, Sheikh Sulieman Skeer said that "These prayers are for Syria's safety, national unity, security and stability'', calling on the Syrians to keep hand in hand to save the homeland.

For his part, Priest Abidallah al-Shaheed said that "love is god 's word on earth and Syria is the land of love . It is the land of civilization and religions, so we must abide by our principles and by the word of God."

Priest Mahmoud Awabda also reiterated the importance of tolerance in putting an end to the homeland's crisis. He stressed the need to give priority to the role women can play in disseminating and upgrading awareness about adherence to national unity.

 Nahla Maaz 

Life-Loving People

The homeland, where peace and life-loving people like the Syrians exist, can never be defeated, because, despite the terrorism-caused tragic and painful events which have been continuous over the past two years in Syria, the steadfast Syrian people emerge from the heart of pain with more determination to go ahead with their confrontation of terrorism together with the Syrian Arab Army to foil the global conspiracy hatched against their own existence and against their sovereign state and army.

Many, including experts, wonder how the Syrian State has withstood such an aggression. The answer is evident in the Syrian people’s great love to their homeland and in their readiness to sacrifice limitlessly to protect it. It is evident in the unity between the people, the army and the leadership and it is, most importantly, evident in the patience of the Syrian brokenhearted mothers who have lost their sons in the battlefield, but never surrendered to despair. These mothers enjoy enough courage to forget their bleeding wounds and challenge their grief to express their willingness to offer more sacrifices with a strong belief that the homeland always stay, while terrorists are doomed to go to the dustbin of history.

In Syria, rarely can one find a Syrian family which hasn’t lost one of its members in confrontations with armed terrorist groups backed by regional and western states in different parts of the country.

 Just try to talk to one of those mothers and you will get a high dose of patriotism and courage. You will find that you can’t console her, as she is the one who will raise your morals.

“The homeland is our honor and dignity, and if we don’t defend our honor who would do,” said Um Gheyath, a mother of three martyrs. Her sons had joined the army in the battle against armed terrorist groups in Dareyya and were martyred there.

“They were so dear, but Syria was dearer and now our country needs sacrifices,” Um Gheyath said while trying to console tearful Um Mohammad, another mother whose son (Ali) was martyred in rural Damascus clashes.

For her part, Um Mohammad, who was so proud of the martyrdom of her son, seemed strong enough to say that “life without dignity is meaningless and that all of us must keep hand in hand to face the terrorists who destroyed with our life and turned it into a nightmare.”

Um Mohammad has another son (Sa'eed) who was kidnapped last year by a terrorist group in al-Tadamun area. She is afraid he is dead as she has got no information about him so far.

"By their acts of kidnapping, destruction and killing, the terrorists want to sow sedition among us, they want us to surrender to their evil schemes against our state, but they will never succeed, as we will keep steadfast until our beloved homeland wins," Um Mohammad said.

These are only examples of great Syrian women who had brought their children up on patriotism, dignity and human principles. Hence, a country with such strong and patient mothers will surely be victorious.

H. Mustafa

Honoring Martyrs' Families in Homs

HOMS,( ST) - Under the patronage of the Baath Party branch Secretary in Homs, Mr. Soubhi Harb, an official celebration was held yesterday in Hadideh district to honor more than 400 martyrs' families who offered their sons for  martyrdom in defense of the homeland in the face of the conspiracy hatched against it.

The celebration was attended by Homs governor, Mr. Mouhammed Mouneer Ahmmed and a number of state officials.
Several speeches were delivered to highlight the heroic deeds of the martyrs who sacrificed themselves for the sake of Syria .

 In a speech made by  representative of the martyrs families, Mr. Ibrahim Mahmoud, brother of the martyr Major General Rajeh Mahmoud, stressed that all the Syrians are ready to offer every sacrifice so that right and national principles would win. He affirmed that defending the homeland is a sacred duty of everyone. Every Syrian at any position is but a soldier defending Syria against the war imposed on it by the anti-Syria Sheikhdoms and states.

"Syrians are to vanquish and will never stop defending their history and protecting their homeland from the schemes targeting its existence", Mr. Mahmoud underscored.

A number of Muslim and Christian clerics also delivered speeches in which they highlighted the great significance of Martyrs stressing that Syria has always been an example of diversity, strength, amity and goodness.  

The Father, Zuhri Abdo Khaz'al, talked about the fraternity, harmony, co-existence, tolerance and the unity of the Syrian blood in the face of the discord which is aiming at sowing sedition among our people.

 "Honoring the martyrs today coincides with the Holy Saturday of  the Christian denominations and we ask God to save Syria and its people hoping that Syria's  victory will be the resurrection of a new dawn and a new chapter of glory", the Father conclude.

Sheikh Ali Ramadan and Sheikh Sari al-Masri stressed that Islam is innocent of these terrorists who are killing and assassinating scholars and clerics in mosques in the name of religion. They distorted Islam, the  religion of tolerance  and justice .

Secretary of the Baath Arab Socialist Party in Homs, Subhi harb, said in a speech he made that words fail to describe the martyr who sacrifice his life willingly and underestimated death to protect the present and the future of his country because,  for him, keeping the homeland safe is the main goal.

Harb went on to say that Martyrdom  is not a coincidence or an emergency event in the history of our nation stressing that the Syrians  have realized the value of the Martyrdom so they feel it as a case, principle, faith and a means as they provided thousands of martyrs for  Syria's freedom and independence. The caravans of martyrs will continue as long as the enemies, who are involved in the transgression and hatred, are unable to understand that victory will be but right's ally."

Father of  martyr Hisham Ghanem Rizk from Enata village  said that his son martyred last year in Damascus and he has  two other sons in the army who are ready to offer their souls and blood in defense of Syria, referring to his nephew Ali Ibrahim Ghanem who martyred in Aleppo in defense of the homeland .

"Our sons have been giving the whole world numerous lessons in bravery, unity, dignity, honor and humanity," the hero's father concluded.

At the end of the celebration, certificates of appreciation and token gifts were offered to the families of the martyrs.

Amal Farhat

I am not going to leave my country

Syria is my country, it is the land of my father, and grand fathers, it is my nation, the nation of eternity, Syria is my home, the people in Syria are my brothers and sisters, I swear under the shade of my flag not to leave my country, whatever the price is. I say as Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop Luke said " A person who has no homeland is nothing".

My beloved people who went outside Syria, come back, we have dignity we can't live as refugees, we can't live like beggars, we will share with you everything, we all have lost dear, we all have lost a house, we all have lost our fortune, but we will not lose our dignity, your cries echo in my ears, and my heart, and may Allah the merciful spare you from echoing these cries in your soul.

And I say as our Syrian Grand Mufti Dr. Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun said, he called on those who consider themselves to be opposition to engage in dialogue and return to Syria, making the people their compass instead of asking help from countries that are well-known for their hostility towards the region, affirming that these countries aren’t actually supporting the opposition; rather their actions seek to guarantee Israel’s security.

I want to ask some Arab rulers and Sheikhs who became to be our enemies now, What are you doing? what did you do to Syria and Syrians? We were very friendly to you, we always opened our home to you, we always considered you our brothers, why are you killing us? Why are you shedding our blood?  Why are you tearing our soft bodies apart? Why ? for God's sake tell me why?

We all are Arabs, supposed to have the same blood, and to share our sadness and happiness,  to have one enemy "Israel", you don't want to help us, ok, just leave us, don't kill us, don't send terrorists to our holy land, don't destroy us, we want peace to every living thing, please leave us in peace.

And for you Obama, I can't prosecute you, you are the judge and the victimizer, you are the legislator and the killer, you always claimed you want peace, and you have prize for that, although you are a killer, you are a monster, you are a man of war not peace, and as I mentioned before you are a crocodile, you have no feeling towards humans.

 A lot of American writers wrote about you, and about your so-called peace prize, (For example: “One must walk the walk of peace, not just talk the talk of peace in order to earn the Peace Prize.”  Paul M., Los Angeles.

 Obama is more a Man of Pieces — as in, ‘Blow them to pieces!’ — than he is a Man of peace.”  Marcus M., San Rafael,

“He’s done nothing to deserve it; and he’s done many things to destroy peace in this world.”  Danny D., Shoreline, WA

“This human has killed more after he got the prize.”  Thomas P., Lewiston, CA

“He obtained the award on promises he didn’t keep.”  Ron B., Bend, OR

“President Obama’s actions have shown that his words were meaningless. The Nobel Peace Prize means little if it’s so easily given away.”  Debra J., Pasadena, MD

 “The Nobel Peace Prize should not be awarded to war mongers and war criminals. Therefore, please revoke the Peace Prize you awarded to President Obama in 2009.”  Fred N., Pleasanton, CA

“It is with deepest regret we ask for this but our President’s actions have not lived up to the high honor of promoting peace.”  GlendaRae H., South Bend, IN

“I don’t think anyone ever understood what Obama was supposed to have done to have deserved the Peace Prize in the first place. And I’m a lifelong Democrat, so my feeling that the Nobel Committee made a mistake is not based in political partisanship.”  Steve J., Hermosa Beach, CA

“It appears that preemptive peace prizes work about as well as preemptive wars.”  Jaan C., Alameda, CA

“As an Obama voter I am deeply disappointed. It was bad judgment to give it to him in the first place.”  Tim K., Long Prairie, MN ) etc…….

 But we are humans, I know you are stuffing your nation's mind and soul with hatred, grudge, and evilness, you pass your rotten hate to them, and make all the people thirst for our death,  I can't prosecute you, but you know what I can do? I can tell my children about you, I can teach them how to love their country Syria, and you know what? I can teach them how to live and die with honor.

At last I say to all our enemies….. thanks, you taught me how to love my country Syria, how to defend it, and how to live in dignity, I am not going to leave my country.

Boutheina Alnounou

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Spring's Festivals

On April 4th, according to the Eastern calendar and when Spring adorns nature with wonderful green plants and colorful flowers, popular celebrations are held in different areas of the country. These celebrations, according to researchers, dated back to the myth of Adonis and "Fourth Day", as it is called in the Syrian coastal region.  According to the normal calendar, Fourth day coincides with the 17th of April which means  that the occasion becomes two. The first one celebrates the charming nature, while the second  celebrates the Evacuation Day.

Back to what is known as the "Fourth of Nisan", it is said that the celebration lasts for four days where people meet every day in a recently specified place such as: Salhab, Sheikh Osman and Abu Qubeis areas. It is actually a geographical festival rather  than a religious occasion.

 A number of Arab countries such as Lebanon and Egypt also celebrate the 4th Day of April. In Lebanon. It is called al-Zouhourieh, in an indication to the primroses of the Spring. 

Marking the Day, people sing and dance happily accompanied with the tune of the reed and the rhythm of the drum. .

These celebrations are also held in the northern city of Hama. It is worth mentioning that people celebrate a number of occasions in April such as St George's Day which is celebrated on April 23.

On 21st of April, according to some researchers, festivals used to be held to celebrate Zeus Cassius the god of countryside and the protector of cattle and herdsmen. It was also the anniversary of founding Rome and the celebration day of god Baal on Safon Mount which is currently called al-Aqrah Mount.

April celebrations mean for both adults and children an appointment with joy, pleasure and fun. They represent every region's heritage, customs and traditions. The Syrian coastal area increases its celebrations in this month. Some of them are periodical religious celebrations. The others are influenced  by old habits and have nothing to do with religion.

The " Fourth" festival, means the fourth day of April according to the Eastern calendar, which is similar, to a large extent, to  Easter, where people welcome Spring  with joy and hope. The" Fourth" occasion flourished in the Syrian coastal villages after the evacuation of the French colonialism in the seventeenth of April according to the Western calendar, which falls on the fourth of April according to the Eastern calendar.

At the mid of the fifties and sixties of last century the Syrian coastal countryside used to receive the Fourth" holiday in a special way that distinguished them from other regions."

Each group of villages used to choose a suitable place to mark the occasion where they set up swings for children and held stages for Dabkeh, dance and singing folkloric songs.

Kids, young people and even students from other villages eagerly use to wait for the feast in order to play the hammocks. Those who want to marry go to participate in the event, since the Fourth was a good opportunity to meet young girls, speak to them and even share a dance with beautiful girls. If a young man fell in love with one of the girls, he would ask about her village and her family. The next day he came with his father to engage her.

Interestingly, the joy of the feast has attracted in the recent years a large number of young men and girls to participate in the celebration and they are still waiting eagerly for the occasion to come .

Amal Farhat