Dr. Ahmad Bader Eddine Mohammad Adib Hassoun, Grand Mufti, Syrian Arab Republic on his second visit to Delhi in a year, in a conversation with The Sunday Guardian said that, contrary to propaganda by those favouring extremist groups, it was not the Syrian government but the (Wahabbi) extremists groups fighting in the country that are responsible for the massacres that have taken place in Syria.

Contrary to what certain sections of the western media has reported about the Syrian crisis, Grand Mufti Hassoun said that such media has not been honest with the world about what has happened in Syria. When asked about his views on Rohingya refugee crisis in Myanmar, Grand Mufti Hassoun said, “Do not be misled by the media. The media reports can be wrong too. Report from the ground. Go to Arakan and see how Muslims and Buddhists live there and then judge.  I am saying this because we have suffered the same fate at the hands of western media.” (as the Buddhists in Myanmar)

Expressing his distaste at “fake news” reports of attacks in Syria, Hassoun said, “For six years we were blamed by the world for killing our own people. In media I am reading about my home town Aleppo being bombarded. There are pictures where people are getting killed and the media says that these pictures are coming from Syria. But I know my home town and these pictures are not accurate. We cannot be sure of the location of these pictures. But media says that in these fake pictures Syrian Army is killing its own people.”

Hassoun rejected the western and GCC assumption about Syrian army killing the civilians, including many Christians, and referring to the five-year old Omran Daqneesh’s photograph that went viral on social media in August last year, Hassoun said, “The killing in Syria is most unfortunate. Omran’s house was targeted by the extremists, not the Syrian government. They photographed the poor boy covered in dust and blood and used his picture to propagate false news about the Syrian Government.”

Denying any Syrian government’s involvement in alleged Christian massacres and chemical bombs, Hassoun said, “The case of chemical weapons is all staged. The United Nations did not investigate the matter properly and continued to believe that Syrian Government was involved. This has happened with me too.” He pointed out that for generations, Muslims and Christians lived together peacefully till some countries began to arm the extremists.  Regarding his alleged statements about Christians, Hassoun said, “During the Christmas celebrations Christians in Aleppo were busy with festivities. Specifically referring to the Christian neighborhoods I had said on TV that people living near conflict areas should go to safer areas. Four years ago there in Aleppo, the extremists were using civilians as shields. So I urged the people to get out of the way of conflict to safer shelters. But my statements were misinterpreted. The Syrian government has not harmed its own people.” Putting his hope in President Bashar Al-Assad’s government, Grand Mufti Hassoun remarked that Syria has started rebuilding the process and rebels who always belonged to Syria are starting to embrace President Assad. However, Hassoun added, “But if tomorrow the majority of Syria does not want to choose President Assad then I will be the first one to tell him to leave.”

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