Augusta residents worry about war in their native Syria

Sunday, May 5, 2013 11:12 PM
Last updated Monday, May 6, 2013 1:39 AM
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Bloodshed and bombings terrorize Imam Mohamad Jamal Daoudi’s native country, and the Augusta resident only has limited media reports, photos and videos to try to grasp the horrific civil war in Syria.

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Imam Mohamad Jamal Daoudi, now a US citizen, poses for a photo in the main prayer hall at the Islamic Community Center of Augusta. He hopes America will take a more aggressive role.  JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
Imam Mohamad Jamal Daoudi, now a US citizen, poses for a photo in the main prayer hall at the Islamic Community Center of Augusta. He hopes America will take a more aggressive role.

“It is painful, very painful looking at those beautiful places I grew up in and seeing those people dying,” said Daoudi, the religious leader of the Islamic Society of Augusta.

Daoudi, who became a U.S. citizen in 2005, said America needs to take a more aggressive role in Syria before more civilians die at the hands of an oppressive regime and a history-rich nation vanishes.

The Syrian conflict between President Bashar al-Assad and rebel forces has escalated to a bloody conflict since it started more than two years ago.

Millions of refugees have fled to neighboring nations while many live in camps within Syria, according to the United Nations.

Last week, U.S. leaders considered the prospects of a military response after saying the Syrian regime likely used chemical weapons. President Obama is facing growing pressure to arm rebels with weapons and defeat Assad.

“For how long are you waiting?” Daoudi said about Obama’s delay ordering U.S. action. “We are still looking up and looking high for this country (the United States) to do something.”

A no-fly zone over Syria, as suggested by Sen. John McCain and others, and arming rebels are ways the U.S. should help, Daoudi said.

Allan Mouna, a Syrian-American who lives in Evans, also wants more U.S. action, primarily a no-fly zone. Continued delays in intervening will lead to further escalation of the fighting, he said.

“It’s like everyone forgot about Syria,” he said. “The longer this keeps going this is going to get stronger.”

Daoudi browses Facebook for several hours each day, getting news updates from the Syrian Free Press. Photos of children with bullet wounds to the head and mothers holding dead babies make him cringe.

“I believe life has to continue. It causes me to be down, but always my hope is in God that there is one day when the truth will prevail,” he said between browsing photos.

Born in Damascus, Daoudi earned two degrees from Damascus University before leaving Syria in 1995. He later returned to Syria with his wife and children while working for the United Nations and continuing his studies.

As violence escalated, Daoudi left his education program prematurely in July and took a position at the mosque in Evans.

He still has one brother and some extended family in Syria.

“We pray for them every day,” he said.

The conflict also has Augusta area residents from St. Mary’s Syrian Orthodox Church praying for safety. Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim, a leader of the Syriac Orthodox Church, was kidnapped from his car two weeks ago near Aleppo, Syria.

“Nobody knows where they are,” said the Rev. Matthew Edathara Corepis­copos, leader of St. Mary’s.

Also abducted was Archbishop Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Corepiscopos, who is not Syrian, visited Syria several times in the past three years on church business. Hostilities were rising during his last visit in 2011, but the most recent outbreaks have him fearing for the safety of Christians.

“It is very sad because many of our churches have been destroyed,” he said. “They are killing Christians.”

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Jon Lester
Jon Lester 05/06/13 - 02:02 am
Did you ask these gentlemen

if they want a post-Assad regime to be a secular one?

fatboyhog 05/06/13 - 06:47 am

Sorry, but the U.S. needs to get out of the business of helping. Let other countries police the world. We need to bring our troops back home and seal off our borders and take care of our own.

my.voice 05/06/13 - 01:57 pm
I'm going to disagree with

I'm going to disagree with this gentleman.

The United States is HATED by your home country, we are broke, yet we continue to pump billions to your country and we continue to put up with your nonsense. Why?

I tell you what we will do. We will agree not to make a parking lot out of your country (and the rest your neighboring ones as well) provided you reign in your murdering, cowardly "jihadists," which is just another term for PUNK-THUG over here. And every time one of your boys does something to us, we further agree to expand the parking lot until there is nothing left but "free parking" over there.

The claim that your people are a peaceful bunch is a crock of malarkey. People willing to blow themselves up over ANYTHING aren't peaceful. In terms of Syria, your own folks are murdering their own. Peaceful, right.

Riverman1 05/06/13 - 09:38 pm
Remember the Syrian doctor

Remember the Syrian doctor who was apparently assassinated in the hospital parking lot in Augusta?

Imam Daoudi
Imam Daoudi 05/07/13 - 12:37 pm
To Jon Lester, it is left

To Jon Lester, it is left absolutely to the Syrian to decide what kind of government they will have, and this is if we really believe in the objective democracy. Yet, let me assure to you and others that Syrian have never been radicals. The minorities who are living in coherence in Syria are the best example on my statement. I hope we continue this discussion soon.

To fatboyhog, I agree with you if that policy is applied on all situation and not pick and choose. I believe as American that we have an ethical responsibility, since we are seen as democracy spreaders, to support the oppressed and help the abused. Syrians have never requested American soldiers on the ground at all. All what they asked is for no fly zone just for short time of 2 weeks or so and the Free Syrian Army would be able to handle the rest. Every drop of blood of American is as valuable as the Syrian one. What is happening in Syria right now is the worst Holocaust ever and worst genocide. Check the Free Syrian Press video clips and see how kids and elderly are slaughtered in cold blood. We as human being at least have a responsibility before our politicians.

To my.voice: I do not where to start from. Your thought are so confused and lack of knowledge and information is so obvious. I advice you to visit me in my office and clear all those ideas that you have used. I really do not know where to start with you. Please read more about the contribution of pioneers Syrian physicians and scientist in the US. Check with the US ambassador to Syria Mr. Ford and his impressions about Syria and Syrians. Then open some books of history to read about Damascus, the oldest inhabited capital on earth, 5000 years old. Again righteousness requires to provide help with no agenda otherwise stop claiming yourself as spreader of democracy. I am talking from humanitarian point of view. Yet the best thing may happen to Syrian is when everybody get himself out of Syria. Specifically Russia, Iran, China, Europe and the US too.

Lori Paige Pack
Lori Paige Pack 05/07/13 - 03:44 pm
I have witnessed

I have witnessed Imam Daoudi shed many tears of prayer for his family and friends suffering in Syria. And I personally know that he and the people of the Islamic Community Center are peaceful, loving Muslims. I am deeply saddened by some of the comments put forth. It shows a true lack of understanding of the peaceful nature of the religion of Islam. This perception of violence and terrorism is a result of a few extremist that have high-jacked the religion and used it as a platform to perform the most horrific deeds and also a result of the medias insistence of propagating this idea. It has served the powers that be well, to create wars and keep us all fighting for their bigger agenda, funding the war machine and stealing oil and natural resources from the innocent Arabs. No wonder they are struggling with the west. Look at Iraq for example. What a fine mess we made there. The death toll is still mounting, millions of orphans, people exiled, torture victims everywhere. We robbed them of their oil, trillium and historical artifacts which now most conveniently reside in Israel. I thought we were going in there to help them. Who is the REAL aggressors? Come on people. Open your eyes. You are being played and the sad thing is that the Arabs know it. Many of them feel sorry for you and your lack of understanding. They call us the STUPID PEOPLE because we don't have a clue about the world or what is happening. We believe anything that is fed to us with out asking questions. And to what end? What are we bringing on ourselves? Who is creating this chaos? Who created Al Qaeda and other extremist groups? It is a well known fact that WE did! Interesting! The US government trained, armed, funded and supported Osama bin Laden and his followers in Afghanistan during the cold war. With a huge investment of $3,000,000,000 (three billion US dollars), the CIA effectively created and nurtured bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network using American tax-payers money. Do your research and WAKE UP!!

Lori Paige Pack
Lori Paige Pack 05/07/13 - 04:28 pm
Can you imagine sitting in

Can you imagine sitting in another country, wondering what was happening to your family and friends every minute of the day? It must be a horrible feeling. And to say, "the Syrians are murdering their own" does not compare to what WE do to each other here everyday. Look around. We kill out own children daily. So stop making it look like they are violent and we are not. It appears that this condition seems to prevail all the earth. I love America but I think it is so silly how we have come to believe that we are so holy than others. That we believe our way of life is the best for all people. Some people do not like our way of life. They find it to be immoral and not very family friendly, with our drugs, murders, divorce and pornography. They are trying to hold back the onslaught of destruction that we spread. Our "freedom" ... It may work for us, but has it every really occurred to you that it will not work for them. They don't like what we bring. Maybe if we were moral and really better they would like it, but it is hard to convince them that our way of life is better.

asqfish 05/11/13 - 07:16 pm
Bashar is secular

Jon Lester & friends: Bashar has systematically tortured and imprisoned the top intelligentsia of the University of Damascus. In 1982 His father and Uncle did a massacre that is unparalleled in history where he systematically tortured, maimed, killed slowly school girls, teachers, professors, Heads of mosques and scholars of Islam.
I have been to Syria three times, once for a medical mission and I can tell you that the atmosphere was so tense that you could not say one word about him, his family or politics or you disappeared and it did not matter if you were American or not.
Syrian people are NOT killing each other though it may seem so. Asaad is systematically killing muslims and any christians who support them.
His army has blown up the historic Allepo mosque which stood for centuries with its doors open for all.
Please be human and think with your heart. We are Americans and this country was founded on as it says under the statue of liberty ""Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
If your parents came early they may be under what has been described above.
The global world has no borders what happens elsewhere affects everyone. We have to stop behaving as if we can lock the door and not have anything to do with anyone.
We both you all and I have to think empathically, and morally, by putting our children and our families in the shoes of the syrian people and then make a decision whether you support Bashar and his army or the syrian people.

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