Alawite intellectuals denounced on Thursday what they said are efforts by the Syrian government and parts of the opposition to link their sect to the regime, warning against the consequences of casting a popular uprising for civil rights in a sectarian light.
The group, which includes writers and journalists, denounced the "government's efforts to link the Alawite community and religious minorities to the regime by manipulating the security situation and the media."
A statement also criticized "the behavior and declarations of certain opposition parties to paint our uprising in a sectarian light, which has been and remains a movement for dignity and civil rights."
It accused the sectarian opposition of being "the other face of the oppressive regime," which has been battling an uprising since March.
The Alawite community, a Shiite sect including 12 percent of the population, including President Bashar al-Assad, is predominantly based in the central cities of Homs and Hama. It is a majority in the coastal cities of Tartus and Latakia.
The text urges "Alawite Syrians, religious and ethnic minorities afraid of the consequences of a possible fall of the regime, to participate in efforts to overturn the oppressive government and participate in the construction of a new Syrian republic based on the rule of law and citizenship."
It also calls on the Syrian army to "no longer obey orders to kill peaceful demonstrators," stressing that the "cruel repression organized by the regime's cronies, regardless of their religious or ethnic affiliation," represents a criminal act.
The signatories include Ruba Hassan, Rasha Omran, Rula Assad, Rosa Yassine Hassan, Firas Saad, Louise Abdul Karim Ali, Hassan al-Khatib, Khawla Dounia, Samar Yazbek and Yamen Hussein.
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