‘Eliminating moderates means eliminating Syria,’ say exiled activists


March 11, 2014

March 11, 2014

In 2011, the actors Mohammed and Ahmad Malas, who are twins, were prominent activists in the peaceful protests that sparked the war in Syria. By July, they had been arrested in a Damascus protest that gathered artists, writers and filmmakers. They fled to Cairo shortly after their release.

Nearly three years later, the twin brothers reside in France, where they watch as moderate activists in Syria are targeted by both the Syrian government and extremist groups like Islamic State in Iraq and a-Sham. Here, they speak with Abdulrahman al-Masri about why they believe the Syrian people are paying such a heavy price for demanding “freedom and dignity.”

Q: You are considered two of the first activists to have begun protesting in 2011. We have seen how the moderates are facing threats and kidnapping attempts by both the regime and ISIS. What do you think about this?

A: Unfortunately, moderate thinkers are always targeted. We do not want to repeat the same tropes. It is clear what ISIS is about. The Prophet Mohammad, Peace be Upon Him, shook hands with the poet Hassan Bin Thabit, showing appreciation for him and his art, even though the poet did not carry a weapon and fight. Simply put, eliminating moderates means eliminating Syria.

Q: Before you left Syria, were you threatened as individuals?

A: Of course, we received many threats from the regime. They were all very crude and violent. We were not threatened by ISIS, but they did interrupt a theatre project of ours inside Syria. We were collaborating with Abdulwahab al-Mulla; he has since been kidnapped.

Q: Do you think pro-opposition Syrians are still fighting a revolution for dignity and freedom? What has changed?

A: The revolution was fighting one enemy. Now, it is fighting 100. But this is the normal path for any revolution. When you talk about a big victory, you’re talking about a higher price.

Q: What is the revolution after three years?

A: A revolution.

418174_227956493960894_1189277316_n.jpgMohammed and Ahmad Malas perform. Photo courtesy of Malas Malas Brothers.

Q: During the last few months, we have witnessed the detainment of Razan Zaitoneh and an assassination attempt on [Kafr Nabl Media Center founder] Raed al-Fares. Do you think groups are deliberately trying to rid Syria of moderates?

A: Targeting Razan Zeitouneh, Raed al-Fares and the people like them is targeting the revolution itself. Of course, this is a planned operation. I think all the governments of the world are working against our revolution.

But, as the [pre-Islamic Arab poet] Amro Qais wrote: “If I had aimed for the lowest form of living, it would be enough. But I didn’t ask for a little bit of money, I aim for deep-rooted glory.”

Today, the Syrian people are all Amro Qais. If they wanted less, they would have ended their revolution earlier.

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