First Published: 2013-01-24

 

Assad celebrates Prophet birthday amid ongoing bloodshed

 

Syrian President appears in live broadcast kneeling in Al-Afram mosque flanked by Syria's Grand Mufti Ahmad Hassoun.

 

Middle East Online

Who will pray for dead Syrian?

DAMASCUS - Syria's embattled President Bashar al-Assad was Thursday shown on state television attending prayers at a mosque in a northern district of Damascus to mark the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) birthday.

The president was shown in a live broadcast kneeling in Al-Afram mosque flanked by Syria's Grand Mufti Ahmad Hassoun, the highest Sunni religious authority in the country, and the religious endowments minister.

The minister, Mohammed Abdel Settar, made a call for dialogue following the prayers, addressing "every citizen of this beloved country: opposition or loyal, spiteful or tolerant, partisan or independent, Muslim or Christian, man or woman.

"Do not waste this chance by hurting and destroying Syria and tearing the unity of your nation to pieces, betraying what has been entrusted to you.

"Come back to the guidance of your beloved Prophet. The president has initiated this opportunity. The hour of salvation has come and the doors of dialogue shall be opened."

Abdel Settar had earlier called for "million man prayers" at mosques on Friday to appeal for the re-establishment of security in the country, rocked by a deadly anti-regime uprising since March 2011.

Assad's opponents have traditionally called for anti-regime rallies each Friday, the Muslim day of rest and weekly prayers.

After the brief ceremony in Al-Afram mosque attended by dozens of religious clerics and laymen, the president smiled and seemed at ease as a crowd gathered around him to offer greetings.

Assad was shown being escorted to a waiting car in the street and stepping into the driver's seat, after which the cameras panned upwards to show the mosque and surrounding area.

The last time Assad appeared in public was for a rare speech to supporters on January 6, in which he dismissed calls for his removal and said he had no partners with whom to negotiate for an end to the 22-month conflict.

He offered a roadmap to end the war while branding the opposition "slaves" of the West and urging foreign powers to stop backing armed rebels.

 

War-torn Syria gears towards 'cessation of hostilities'

Italian PM warns Egypt friendship on the line

Yemen loyalist forces advance towards Sanaa

S.Sudan president names arch-rival his deputy

Berlin film fest competition kicks off with Arab film

Israel denies dropping controversial Brazil envoy pick

Tunisia prepares for possible intervention in Libya

UAE to deploy jets, commandos in anti-IS campaign

100,000 refugees in Syria border camps near Turkey

Greece given three-month ultimatum to remedy border ‘deficiencies’

Ankara hails world powers' Syria ceasefire plan

Five Yemen police killed in ‘Qaeda’ attack in Aden

Kuwait to finalise Eurofighter jet deal with Italy

Iraqi PM urges Kurdistan to drop any plans for independence

Russia accuses US planes of hitting Aleppo

Anti-ISIS coalition looks to decisive new phase

Turkey, Israel open new normalisation talks

Assault on Aleppo displaces tens of thousands

Moroccan King inaugurates Aquaculture Farm in Oued Ed-dahab

Turkish forces end operation in southern town

NATO launches unprecedented Aegean migrant naval mission

Erdogan threatens to send millions of refugees to EU

Suspected PKK militants attack two Turkey pro-govt newspapers

Train derails in Egypt’s Bani Sueif province

Iranians mark 37 years since Islamic revolution

Moscow ready to discuss modalities of ceasefire in Syria

Egypt hires UK firm to review Sharm security

Tunisia makes $500 million from assets of ousted president

Turkey dismisses pressure to open borders as 'hypocritical'

Efforts to form Libya unity government stumble over defence portfolio

Iran blames failure of Syria peace talks on participation of ‘terrorists’

Syria opposition hopes for end of sieges

UAE names women state ministers in major government shake-up

French Foreign Minister steps down with criticism of US role in Syria

Germany hopes Syria talks in Munich will agree to provide aid

Syrian Kurdish separatists open Moscow representation

Jordan rejects France extradition request for 1982 terror attack suspects

Libya parliament extends deadline for formation of new unity government

Herzog wants Israel to begin separation from Palestinian areas

Khomeini grandson loses appeal against exclusion from Iran elections

Turkey, US split deepens over support for Syria Kurds

EU tells members to accelerate refugee relocation

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince in India: String of trade, security deals expected

Syria regime's Aleppo offensive kills more than 500

Ex-Israeli PM’s prison sentence extended