A letter from a Syrian activist to an American mother
To the mother of James Foley,
I want to express my sincerest condolences for the loss of your son, James Foley. It was with shock and sorrow to know what had happened to him by those vicious killers. My thoughts are with you and your family during these difficult times.
I read your statement that James gave his life to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people, and that you have never been prouder of him than today. I have the same feelings as you as I have also lost friends and beloved people who sacrificed their lives for the good of humanity. Although it is indescribably painful to lose them, their legacy comforts us and makes us feel that they are still with us.
I am writing to you, as I would want to write thousands of mothers who lost their children during the ongoing Syrian conflict. I wish I could write every bereaved mother, to hold them all, and to assure them that their loss won’t be forgotten and that the souls of the victims won’t go in vain. The perpetrators will be held accountable sooner or later.
Those masked men who took James away are coming from all over the world to fight in Syria. Once, this land attracted people from different cultures, religions and ethnicities to come and live together in a society of tolerance and acceptance. Because of that diversity it could contribute to the prosperity of human civilization. Dark forces, in shape of dictators and extremists are trying to make it a place of continues terror and fear. The people on the ground are rising up against both of them. It is a universal responsibility to make this region and the entire world a place for multi cultures, for the good of all of us. I think this is what James and other journalists believe in when they decided to come to Syria and risk their lives to tell the world about what is going on.
As the dark forces have united against humanity, we should unite against them to make this world safer and more hopeful. I have lost friends and beloved ones, I cried, I stared into nothing. But I realized that I have more reasons to wake up every morning and continue struggling against both the dictator and the fanatics. The sacrifices made by James and people like him prove to us that a better world is possible and we should all strive towards it.
I am not losing hope, because I know how many nonviolent and civil rights activists there are in Syria, and I want to share that hope with you. They are struggling for freedom, justice and pluralism. They are continuing their quest even though they are facing two brutal sides that share the lack of principles, a brutal authoritarian regime and a ruthless fundamentalist organization. Those activists are creating a third alternative, to allow civilians inside Syria to build their future away from violence and extremism.
Finally, I hope other disappeared journalists and detainees will be free soon. Whether they are held captive by Assad’s regime, the Islamic state or any other armed group. For them, for the future of humanity and for the future of our world, we should all continue to unite to deliver a message of peace and acceptance. Only by that, we could honor the deeds of those who are gone.
Please accept my condolences, I know many Syrian nonviolent and civil activists who wanted to write to you and to the family, friends, and colleagues of James. The voice James and other courageous journalists give to the voiceless people in Syria is absolutely crucial. It will not be forgotten.
Ibrahim Al Assil
Ibrahmim Al Assil is the Executive Director of the Syrian Nonviolence Movement.
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