Following are excerpts from programs on opposition TV, in which the Syrian regime is accused of "Shiitization" of the country. The programs aired on Al-Zanoubiya TV on December 15-16, 2008.
Title: "The new invasion"
Title: "Shiitization in Syria"
Mufti of Syria Ahmad Hassoun: Allow me to say this openly. I have been studying for dozens of years, but never have I heard any of my teachers say that the day of 'Ashura was a tragedy for the Islamic nation. Why did they conceal this from us? May Allah forgive them. They said: We did it out of fear that this would influence you, and you would become a Shiite. They did it out of fear! Can facts be concealed out of fear?!
Former Syrian Vice President Abd Al-Halim Khaddam: Iran has a significant presence in Syria. Iran is involved in the very heart of the regime – in its security agencies, in its military forces, in its economic [institutions], and in its mosques. The Mufti of Syria today is like an Iranian preacher.
Leader of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood Ali Al-Bayanouni: Where does the problem lie? The problem arises when Syrian-[Iranian] relations are no longer on equal terms, and Syria becomes a tool in the hands of Iranian policy. This is the case under the rule of Bashar Al-Assad. Iranian influence in Syria has gone beyond cultural relations, and beyond military and economic relations. Syria has become part of Iran's policies and interests. With regard to the Shiite expansion – I do not feel that it poses any danger to the Sunnis in Syria. I do not believe that the Sunni Muslims in Syria will leave their Sunni faith and adopt the Shiite faith. Undoubtedly, this people inherited its [Sunni] faith, and it believes in it. But such attempts create tension in the country.
Yes, there are "Shiitization" attempts in eastern Syria. Shiite seminaries are built in areas where there are no Shiites. The Iranian embassy and Iranian cultural centers conduct cultural activities, and have influence in several regions. There are schools and universities that spread the Shiite faith. In my opinion, the Shiite expansion among Sunnis is unacceptable, and it generates sensitivities and tension in Syrian society.