The recently released book, Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War by Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila Al-Shami mentions that Alawites traditionally were as heretics by Shia religious authorities. This is mentioned while discussing Iran's fervent support for the Assad regime. Today Iranian soldiers and officers participate in the Assad regime's campaign of violence that has plunged Syria into catastrophe.
Why would theocratic Iran risk so much on a supposedly secularist and Arabist regime? The Alawi identity of the ruling security clique makes little difference, since orthodox Shia like orthodox Sunnis consider the Alawi faith heretical. (Chapter 9.)Somehow how I had always thought the Alawites were a branch of Shia Islam. Turns out that is not the case.
No doubt this must have caused many problems to Alawites over the years. We need to treat people of different religions with respect and dignity. We must not discriminate along religious or racial lines. We must give no place to religious discrimination or racism.
The book mentions many instances in which Alawites participated in the revolutionary movement against the Assad regime and in which many of the Syrian revolutionaries condemned sectarianism and yearned for a nation for all regardless of one's personal religious affiliation.
The anti-Assad revolution was initially non-sectarian but the Assad regime wore down this sense of solidarity and did many things to divide the Syrian people along sectarian lines to weaken the opposition.
Tragically the Syrian people continue to suffer from the catastrophe imposed upon them by the Assad regime's campaign of violence and repression. A recent UN report noted that the Assad regime's treatment of prisoners may amount to extermination.
In recent days many Syrians have fled for their lives from Aleppo in the wake of severe bombardment and advances by the Assad regime. This will further contribute to the ongoing refugee crisis.
The Syrian people deserve to live in peace and safety. It is just so terrible.