Arab Americans Rally with Syrians in Support of Assad Reforms

Arab Americans Rally with Syrians in Support of Assad Reforms

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DEARBORN, Mich.— Some of America's most popular news sources such as CNN and FOX News continue to report misleading information on the protests in Syria a diplomat said Tuesday while speaking at a rally in support of the country's President Bashar Assad.

Syrian Ambassador to the U.S., Imad Moustapha, also criticized Al Jazeera's coverage of Syria during his speech to an extremely jubilant crowd of more than 500 at the Lebanese American Heritage Club (LAHC).

"It was a very unfortunate narrative of misinformation…The only battles that are happening in Syria are between armed terrorist groups and the military. We fully support the legitimate demands of peaceful demonstrators. We make a distinction between peaceful demonstrators and armed terrorist groups," Moustapha said, speaking to The Arab American News.

He says the distinctions between the two types of protesters are one group is civil and have the right to ask for freedom, social and political reform while the other consists of terrorists that want to spread fears and havoc among the population. When asked whether America was supporting the protests because it was concerned about the basic democratic rights of Syrians Moustapha said, "I don't believe this is true for the United States. Otherwise why is it allowing the Israelis to treat the Palestinians in this way?"

During the rally Dr. Moustapha told the crowd that he was approached by an official from the Secretary of State's office, and offered a deal to pass along to Syria's government. The deal, which for diplomatic reasons could not be entirely disclosed offers the U.S. administration's support on the condition that Syria's regime yields to three demands. Even though he would not specify those demands nor did he disclose the name of the official, the crowd shouted naming them one after another as he stood on the podium: 1. Disengage from alliance with Iran. 2. Stop helping Hizbullah. 3. Stop Syria's support to Hamas and become one of the Arab "moderate" nations.

Moustapha says the objective of the extremists is to create tension between various religious and ethnic groups that leads to division and disintegration. He said Assad is more than willing to meet the demands of peaceful protestors who want reform. In other states Moustapha has experienced the same positive energy from supporters of Assad. Following the rally attendees lined up to take photos with him. He urged the crowd to befriend Syrians who oppose Assad in order to avoid jeopardizing the unity of Syrians.

On the same day as the rally, more than a million people in both the Syrian capital of Damascus and major city of Aleppo rallied in support of Assad and his pledge to offer reforms to the people. Various other cities across the country also saw major pro-Assad rallies.

Stephanie Hana of Livonia said Assad is willing to create reform but can't if protestors are not cooperating with him. She said some protestors have destroyed homes and buildings. "I want to be able to go back to Syria and admire its beauty. I want my country to go back to how it was without protesters who say they want change but really want destruction… Syria is home to millions of people who will fight for it. And it's home to me, Stephanie Hana, a girl who believes in Syria and its leadership. I'm with Syria, and Bashar Assad," she said.

Assad has been criticized for his regime's violent response to the country's uprising and has faced diplomatic pressure from the United States, Turkey, Gulf nations and others as well as sanctions from the European Union.

Other members of the local community have also taken issue with Assad's regime.

"Usually there is no black and white in politics. But in Syria the masses are revolting against their corrupt tyrant, who is terrorizing them by sending his security forces, thugs and army to kill, capture and torture them. It's pretty clear who the bad guy is in this case, and it's shameful that some people are still cheering for him," Ali Harb of Dearborn said.

Waseem Diab of Dearborn also criticized the coverage of protests while speaking at the rally. "They twisted the truth and thanks to Photoshop we can see Bahraini citizens protesting in Syria," he said. "It is the responsibility of every government in the world to defend its citizens and its infrastructure yet the Syrian government is criticized by the media for trying to do so, and it's accused of killing peaceful protesters…,"

At the rally there was a moment of silence dedicated to all those who lost their lives fighting for freedom, justice and reform. The Syrian national anthem was also recited. Before the program demonstrators danced and sang outside while playing loud patriotic music and holding up pictures and large frames with Assad's face. A large banner with Assad's picture was held up. One man played a drum. Others including adults and children danced while being carried on someone's shoulder. Almost everyone dressed in the same white T-shirt featuring Assad's face written under it "we love you". One sign read, "Obama, please leave us alone. We love Syria and Bashar." The rally consisted largely of Syrian and Lebanese Americans.

Demonstrators brought their excitement inside the LAHC where they were constantly asked to quiet down while 11 speeches were made. Program speakers included Syrian Ambassador to the U.S. Dr. Imad Moustapha; Sami Abu Fawaz; Dearborn resident Waseem Diab; Tamam Mohammad M.D.; Pharmacist Tarek Saad; TAAN Publisher Osama Siblani; Kheir Al-Zouhayli M.D.; Sheickh Mohamad Dbouk of the Islamic Center of America, Syrian American Stephanie Hana of Livonia; Engineer Tarek Sobh from the Islamic Institute of Knowledge; and Fr. Joseph Antypas of the St. George Church in Troy.

Syrian American Najib Tayara, who opposes Assad's regime, is the founder of www.seffd.org which unites Syrian expatriates around the globe to speak in one voice and assists in implementing the democratic aspirations of Syrians.

Tayara says his cousin was thrown in jail for simply speaking negatively about Assad. "If you really believe he (Assad) is good let there be a free election in Syria," he said.

Mohamad Habib drove from Windsor, Canada to attend the rally. He says Assad would never use violence against his own people, and that his homeland was one of the most peaceful in the Middle East before the protests. "Whatever they do in the news, that's fake news," Habib said.

He believes there are multiple organizations creating chaos in Syria in order to dismantle the government and create other states.

"They want their own government. We are Syrian. We are one piece of land. We are not going to separate our country."