News / Middle East

    Assad Appears in Public for Eid Prayers

    Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (3nd R ) attends Eid Al Fitr prayers at al-Hamad mosque in Damascus, August 19, 2012.
    Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (3nd R ) attends Eid Al Fitr prayers at al-Hamad mosque in Damascus, August 19, 2012.
    Edward Yeranian
    CAIRO — Syrian state television has shown embattled President Bashar al-Assad attending ceremonies for the annual Islamic Eid al Fitr holiday, marking the end of Ramadan. The service took place at a mosque near the presidential palace and most of those attending appeared to be government officials.

    Those attending the service, including Assad, observed the Eid al Fitr ritual, repeating after Sheikh Mohammed Kheir Ghantous, who led the crowd of several hundred in prayer.

    It was only the third time that Assad has appeared on TV since a bomb blast killed many of his top aides at a security compound last month.  The president was seen on TV after the explosion appointing a new army commander and a new defense minister.

    Arab commentators noted that President Assad traditionally attends major Islamic services at Damascus' iconic Omayyid Mosque. They suggested that tight security after the bombing which killed his brother-in-law and his defense minister prompted him to avoid the limelight.

    Al Arabiya TV reported that sniffer dogs were used to check the area in and around the mosque for explosives.  Assad looked nervous throughout the service and left without shaking hands with many top aides and officials alongside him, as is usually the custom.

    Syrian opposition figures stressed that several key government officials, including Vice President Farouq al Shara and Ba'ath Party head Abdallah Ahmar did not attend. Al Arabiya TV reported several days ago that Shara had defected to Jordan, but Syrian TV denied the report.

    Opposition activists are claiming that Ba'ath Party head Ahmar was arrested after trying unsuccessfully to defect but this has not been confirmed.

    In the state television report, President Assad was shown exchanging words with his Religious Affairs Minister Mohammed Abdel Sattar es Sayyid and Mufti Ahmed Badreddin Hassoun.

    The mufti addressed the nation after the service, urging Syrians to put down their weapons and stop the bloodshed shaking their country.

    “Oh sons of Syria,” he urges, “stop the bloodshed, because the world is watching and saying 'see the Muslims kill each other.'  Have you heard of such wars in Europe or America where people shed each other's blood? Why do we do this when we are sons of the same [Islamic] nation?"

    Amateur video showed shells falling Sunday in the besieged town of Rastan, near Homs. Opposition leaders claim that government artillery bombed mourners at a cemetery despite the Eid al Fitr holiday. It was impossible to verify the claim.

    Arab satellite TV channels broadcast live webcam footage of a crowd of men chanting “freedom, freedom” outside a mosque in the embattled city of Aleppo. The channels reported that some shooting and shelling took place around the city, despite the holiday.

    Meanwhile, state TV showed Syria's Minister of Higher Education Mohammed Yehya al Ala'a visiting a model hospital in Damascus. He claimed that Syrian hospitals are “in a state of readiness and well-equipped,” with the exception of one facility.  Human rights groups and the United Nations have condemned government attacks on many hospitals across the country.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Maureen Leidly from: UK
    August 19, 2012 1:13 PM
    has the reprobate found "religion"... reminds me of Sadam... just before... you know what... someone here had said that Islam is a degradation tailored made for the Arabs - it was meant to keep these Arab moon worshipers in "line"... they are still worshiping a meteor... would you believe it?? I didn't too, until it was mentioned and I research it...

    by: Greg from: New York
    August 19, 2012 11:03 AM
    Isn't it interesting how the US media never mentions that Assad is a Christian dictator, they would want you to believe an Alawite is the same thing as a muslim.. It would be a harder sell to go to war with a Christian nation. Let's bring an end to US hostilities abroad, stand up the war propaganda. No War in Syria or Iran.
    In Response

    by: Plain Mirror from: Plain Planet
    August 20, 2012 8:24 AM
    The mirror is simply plain in this comment. US should stop terrorrising the world. This act of spareheading of hostilities abroad is gradually eroding the respect, confidence and honour the US receives and enjoys from the outer world.

    by: Rob Swift from: United Kingdom
    August 19, 2012 10:18 AM
    This pharisee (assad) seeks to polish the outside of the cup while the inside remains dirty. He is a blind guide and they shall all fall into the pit.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora