Goshen News, Goshen, IN


December 6, 2013

GLOBAL FAITHS: Alawites an example of why Americans need to be vigilant

News reports keep reminding us of the civil war in Syria. An important group in this war is the Alawite sect of Islam, to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs. Who are these Alawites in the middle of this conflict?

The Alawite movement got started in the second half of the 900s by a Shiite called Ibn Nusayr and then got organized a century later by one of Nusayr’s followers called al Tabarani, who won many Syrians living in the coastal mountain range over to his views.

Some observers consider these Alawite views mystical, but Sunni Muslims call them heretical, since it seems one of their tenets is reincarnation. For that reason Alawites have sometimes been persecuted and tended to become secretive about their distinctive beliefs.

The former president of Syria, Hafez al-Assad, played down Alawite differences, admitting Alawites were Shiite but claiming they were otherwise good Muslims who accepted the Quran, recognized the prophet Muhammad, and made their prayers toward Mecca. Alawites constitute about 10 percent of Syria’s population of 23 million people.

Alawites might have remained an Islamic sect living in relative peace had it not been for the French Mandate of Syria from 1923 to 1943 under the League of Nations. It was in effect colonial rule, and the Sunni majority of Syria resented it. To deal with this the French cultivated the loyalty of the Alawite minority as a “counterweight” (as Wikipedia puts it), enlisting Alawites in the military, even for a time creating an Alawite state.

When Syria became independent in 1946 it entered upon an era of rocky politics until Hafez al-Assad, an Alawite air force general, seized power in 1970. Under his presidency Alawites got favored in the military and the economy, although some Alawites, like most Sunnis, resented Hafez’s nondemocratic rule. Hafez died in the year 2000 and was succeeded by his son Bashar. When other Middle Eastern regimes — Egypt and Libya — got overthrown in the “Arab Spring,” opposition arose against the al-Assad regime.

Text Only
  • PLAIN SIDE: A hearty parlor tussle with Pictionary Pictionary. You play it? I've always enjoyed the game -- my lack of artistic skills notwithstanding. Calvin and his family take it to another level though. If we play with them, we holler, we shiver, we jump, we scream, we cheer and we groan. Calvin'

    April 19, 2014

  • Mile and miles of memories

    Sam and his first car, Xenia, a 2005 Scion xB.

    Saying good bye to a car isn't easy for a gearhead.

    April 18, 2014

  • David Suchet as Hercule Poirot.jpg Easter crime mysteries? Some Easter traditions go beyond chocolate bunnies Visions of chocolate candies, Easter bunnies and the risen Christ come to mind this Easter season -- at least in the United States. But what about the rest of the world? Here are a few traditions and surprises.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • At the game with Ernie

    Baseball on radio brings the imagination alive

    April 13, 2014

  • There are many ways to measure success It yields a virtual sea of books, talks and podcasts; classes, seminars and sermons; pointers, tips and 10-step lists; and gaggles of guides that promise the seven secrets to it. The "it," of course, is success. A dictionary definition? Easy: the ach

    April 13, 2014

  • FEA GN140413 dick lehman 08 Passion for pottery

    Passion for pottery BY SAM HOUSEHOLDER sam.householder@goshennews.com

    Dick Lehman has spent his 33-year career as a potter learning how to see.

    Lehman has built a successful career despite no formal, traditional pottery training.

    April 13, 2014 6 Photos

  • FEA GN0411 tom yoder column image Winter leaves yards with trouble spots Each and every year the majority of us are faced with some sort of horticultural problem that exists, has existed, or we're worried that it could become a problem in our future. Every year, and predominantly in the spring, I receive calls from homeow

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Electing sheriffs best way to protect rights DEAR SHERIFF: I have heard of proposed Indiana legislation in the last few years to elect one county executive who would appoint the sheriff and essentially remove the sheriff from being elected. What is your opinion on such legislation? ANSWER: The

    April 11, 2014

  • stephanie price column sig [Duplicate] 'Can I spend the night?' Just say 'no'

    Have I mentioned I’m a morning person? Love those early, early hours. They’re fresh and sweet, much like a newborn baby — quiet, gentle, promising. Oh-five-hundred is my finest hour, and coffee goes best with a sunrise.

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kingsley, Aaron Sawatsky COLUMN: Scientists say climate to deteriorate faster than expected Scientists say climate to deteriorate faster than expected By AARON SAWATSKY-KINGSLEY Columnist

    April 6, 2014 1 Photo


Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video
Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest

There has been discussion at West Goshen Elementary School to require mandatory student uniforms in the future. How do you feel about the prospect of mandatory student uniforms in a public school environment?

I think it’s an excellent idea that is way overdue
I think it’s a bad idea and would be restrictive for students and parents.
     View Results