'They sent me a message saying it was shameful for me to abandon my sect'

Maya Haidar, 23, is a Syrian Alawite who fled her family's wrath after renouncing the actions of some members of her sect against the Syrian people. She spoke to Nuha Shabaan from Jabal al-Turkman, where she is engaged to a Sunni man, about the importance of minorities not staying silent in the face of regime brutality.

May 9, 2013

Q: I want to ask you about the situation in Latakia province?

A: Regarding Latakia everyday there are clashes, shelling, and arrests. The general atmosphere is terror and we used to it. In Turkmen Mountain we face daily shelling because the FSA control it. The regime wants to take control of it because it is high land and they have been targeted from it.

Q: Sorry for this question but for which sect you belong to?

A: I am Alawite. No need for being sorry. I am sorry, as my sect is making massacres and destroys each day under the excuse of Assad and keeping the country safe.

Q: Can you tell me why you defect from your sect?

A: I do not consider myself as defected, am with the right even if it is against my sect. I have not think before of being Alawite and did not ask myself this question. To be honest I was not expecting this to happen. I only knew that I am Syrian; I learned these things lately after what happened in Iraq. We hadn't thought this way before; we live, eat, and drink together. After the Kurds start to ask their rights and how the regime treated them and even refused to give them Syrian Identities. I start asking myself why the regime does this when they are Syrians. Why they do not have ID's like other Syrian people. Then I started to recognize and know that we are sectarian under the cover of Arabian, Issue, and resistance.

Q: Are you still convinced that you are in the right path?

A: Until this moment yes, even though there are some disrespectful behaviors which I think the regime is the reason behind it.

Q: Is your family are against the regime now, too?

A: No it is only me. My family denied me and asked for my death. I fled to Turkmen Mt. as I heard there are massacres against the Sunni people. I did not believe it in the beginning and I said to myself; let me go and see by myself. I went there and saw my sect on their truth and how they treat Sunni people and the Kurds. They are very sectarian and they think they are the chosen sect among the others. I felt shame because of their behaviors. I stayed there and my family considered me as a spy against the regime. I love Sunni guy and when my Mom start seeing my in hide and bring me some clothes my father knew about it and killed her. He considered her as traitor.

Q: Is it this easy for him? How could he kill his life partner?

A: he thinks he is defending the regime, and his family including himself is redemption for the regime. That is why he killed my mom and he asked anyone sees me to kill me immediately.

Q: Did you do that because you are in love with a Sunni man?

A: Yes I love a Sunni man and I will marry him, against the will of everybody.

Q: Back to the Latakia situation and the sectarianism happening there. Do you believe as an Alawite person in the position of Alawite people and their support for the regime? Do they think that the regime will not sacrifice them?

A: It is their business and they will pay for that. Believe me after what I saw in Baniyas I start wishing death for Alawite people, because they are shame on Syria. I am only saying that about the ones who Support the regime and his acts against Syrian people. The man do this kind of Massacre is not a real man and he has no dignity. Let the people of the coast watch, they are afraid to lose the coast and not to swim again. Each one of the people that participated in killing Syrian people must pay back. Disregard of their belongings Sunnis, Alawites, Iranian, or And Russians.

Q: What were your Alawite friends’ reactions to your defection? You must’ve had Alawite friends before the revolution?

A: I broke up with most of them, and almost all of them, because some of them are afraid and cowardly, and the rest support and promote the crimes committed. They sent me a message saying it was shameful for me to abandonmy sect.

Q: What would you say to them, Maya? To the ones who are silent.

A: I’d like to tell them they should stop justifying by saying their afraid and unable to do anything and hat their silence is the biggest crime. I’d tell them down with this coexistence if it means to live with monsters. [I’d tell them] the honorable people among they should stand up and encourage the youth of Latakia to go down the street with the youth of Tartus and the entire coast.

Q: What do you think of what happened in Banias?

A: Most people are unable to comprehend what happened, why or who did so. Why all these crimes?

Q: Are you afraid that this might happen in Latakia now? We’ve heard the regime is planning for a similar massacre in the Latakia Sunni neighborhoods.

A: This regime is criminal. They are monsters, not humans. They could do anything. The entire coast of all sects must protest and stop these criminals. They are fascists. Patriotism requires sacrifices, not just talk.

Q: What did you study, Maya?

A: I’m studying economics. I stopped going to university when the events erupted in Latakia. I’m 23. When they knew I defected from them, they said I became afraid of them and that I was brainwashed by Sunnis. That said I was getting paid by some groups, so I distanced myself from them and their theories. I don’t want their “intellectual” acts of shabiha.

Q: Do you have any regrets?

A: I’m talking about what I see on the ground, through my own experience. I’m not willing to slander those that have done nothing to be but good. I was to behave and be respected. I’d like to tell all sects to respect their differences, especially those who claim to be patriots and freedom. I direct this to my sect, from which I defected. I haven’t regretted and I’m ashamed of being one of them. The people of Jableh weren’t able to sleep when the massacre happened. They were listening to the artillery hammering Banias. They heard the screams of the people. The people of Jableh and Banias are related, and the smell of death reached us here, in Jableh.