Syrian hajj pilgrims curse Assad

A Syrian refugee holds her child as she looks out her tent on the Syrian side of the border with Turkey. – Reuters

MINA, Saudi Arabia: Enraged Syrian pilgrims on Sunday cursed President Bashar al-Assad and prayed for his death as they hurled pebbles at pillars representing Satan in the final ritual of the annual hajj pilgrimage.

Rebel flags billowed among vast crowds of Muslim pilgrims who heaved towards the stoning site in the Saudi holy city of Mina amid the chanting of anti-Assad slogans.

“Oh God, may we see Bashar al-Assad soon hanged or burnt, kicked out or a humiliated prisoner,” one Syrian yelled through a loudhailer as dozens walking behind him shouted: “Amen.”

"May Bashar follow (Moamer) Qadhafi," they chanted, referring to the Libyan dictator killed last October 20 in his home town of Sirte by rebels who rose up against his regime last year.

“Please tell the whole world about us. We are under siege in Syria, in Homs. They demolished our homes so we fled to Saudi Arabia,” said one old woman, tears welling.

“Tanks were right next to our house. I was alone with my daughter, so we fled.

“I want victory for Syria. I hope to see the free Syrian flag waving in the country and all refugees and all the homeless going back,” she added.

Syrian pilgrims were few at this year's hajj as the deadly civil war rages between the Assad regime and rebels that a rights group says has so far left more than 35,000 people dead.

Damascus has claimed that Riyadh barred Syrians from attending the hajj, but Saudi officials have repeatedly denied the allegation, claiming to have issued some 10,000 visas to Syrian refugees now in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.

Saudi Arabia, along with Qatar and Turkey, has supported the Syrian rebels with funds and arms in their fight against Assad's forces.

On Friday, the Imam of the Grand Mosque, Sheikh Saleh Mohammed al-Taleb, called on the world to take “practical and urgent” steps to stop the bloodshed in Syria.

“The world should bear responsibility for this prolonged and painful disaster, and responsibility is greater for the Arabs and Muslims who should call on each other to support the oppressed against the oppressor,” he said in his Eid Al-Adha sermon.

The official Syrian flag was mostly absent from this year's hajj, with most Syrians performing the pilgrimage brandishing the rebel standard instead.

Most of the Syrian pilgrims who joined the stoning rituals were either “residents of Saudi Arabia or they had entered the kingdom on visitor visas,”said Omar Noman, a Syrian group leader.

“Every one of us in this group has somehow suffered and had a relative killed or had a house destroyed. This is why we are cursing Bashar,” he said.

“God, they have broken our hearts, destroyed our mosques, and slaughtered our children. Take revenge on them!” another group of Syrians chanted as worshippers from other countries took pictures and expressed their support.

“Most people are praying for our freedom. We hope they mean it,” said Syrian pilgrim Haitham al-Rifaie.

Mohammed al-Masri, who headed another group, said the Syrian worshippers were performing hajj “for the souls of Syria's martyrs.”

"It's a way of supporting our brothers in Syria,” he said. “We can't do much from here. This is why we are performing hajj on their behalf."

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Comments (12) Closed

Oct 28, 2012 09:07pm
The West, US , Europe, NATO, Saudi regime , Qatar Regime and Turkey are bent upon destroying syria as they want to punish Hizbullah for its victory over Israel in 2006.
Oct 28, 2012 03:52pm
I am just astonished that the Syrian pilgrims would curse and pray for revenge at the holiest of holy pilgrimage, Hajj. This shows the extent of extremism and intolerance, the ignorant minority of this great religion has succumbed to. Instead of praying for end to violence, killings (by both sides) and destruction of their country, they are cursing at the Holy place.
Oct 29, 2012 12:50am
Syrians are not wrong to seek freedom from Asad family rule. But there is also no doubt that after Asad, Syria will be soaked in bloodshed.
Cyrus Howell
Oct 28, 2012 04:56pm
The Arab dictators kept their prisoners on lock down. Egypt and Syria had good economies.. Egypt was the Financial, IT and Transportation Hub of the Middle East. It's real estate market was booming. However, the interior ministry police brutalized the people in both nations. Street gang members were recruited by Mubarak into the police. They were notorious for raping Egyptian women. People in the Middle East and North Africa were tired of being brutalized. There was a discussion about due process and legal rights only in the universities. The regimes were hording all the money. Young people had no jobs and could not get married or buy a house without either money or a job. They said Basta. Enough. If the government is murdering you and won't give an inch, that is the last straw. What else is there to lose? . There is an old saying on Wall Street: "A Bull can make money and a Bear can make money; but a Hog never can." Greed killed all these dictators.
Oct 28, 2012 04:37pm
its easy to comment such from your drawigroom sofa, but truths are more biased then many reports, especially in sectarian conflicts as such.
Tariq Nadeem
Oct 29, 2012 03:38am
there can be no birth without pain..... this is the birth of a new Muslim country,
Oct 28, 2012 05:27pm
you are very much a racist. All your comments are anti-Muslim. Clearly there is freedom of speech on Dawn Newspaper that your racist views are still printed. Having said that, anyone with an iota of intelligence can see that revolution take a long long time to bring about positive change. In the short term, it is chaos, it is killings, and the extremist (of any religious or political persuasion) there to take advantage of it. That happened during the french revolution and the American revolution and the Iranian revolution. It takes a long time for people to figure out the positive path forward. As for objective news, where do you see that in the US? Despite the fact the rebels have destroyed Aleppo, the US media, and the govt are very quite about it. Only and only the Syrian govt is was exactly the case with Libya. If you could remove your anti-Muslim blinders, you will see that to varying extent, the rest of the world is not that different. Not even the "free world" that happily consume 80% of the world resources and then preaches human rights to those living on less than a $1 a day
Oct 28, 2012 05:47pm
All Syrians are not aginst Assad.He is holding between different minorities.With him gone....more killings than now. Hajj is time of peace and prayers to submit oneself to Almighty(no worldy demand....but sacrifice) for welfare of Muslims.Not a time for Cursing and Kahr. Ask for unity.
Oct 28, 2012 05:50pm
They want weaker and corrupted govt. 100 ministers and 200 state ministers....all have chance to pocket poors loaf.
Oct 28, 2012 05:16pm
This is news from Saudi Arabia. Of course they are going to show the anti-Assad side. Unfortunately what the rebels have done is simply disgusting. They have lost the support of the Christians, and a significant percentage of Syrian people who were initially with them. You can slaughter people and burn ancient Muslim and chrisitan tombs like Taliban, and expect the people to be with you.
Oct 28, 2012 12:16pm
What is the meaning of freedom for these people? The world has seen the Arab spring.What did it get the people.Muslims in such states are killing each other.Their economy is in shambles. There is no proper law and order.Non of the muslims in Syria were given visas. So how can you say that there is total objection to the present rule?One should give a non biased report in such cases.
Ahmed Saeed
Oct 28, 2012 01:34pm
Median in Pakistan should not join the bandwagon of Western media. Reporting shall be fair and transparent. Just picking news for the hack of it doesn't suit well. Dawn is authenticated news paper in Pakistan. It must avoid such bizarre news.