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.

 

Turkey, US agree to ‘work together’ in Syria

Fears of expanding Syrian war could trigger peace deal

Six suffer breathing difficulties after Turkish shelling in Afrin

Thousands protest corruption in Tel Aviv amid PM indictment call

Syrians crammed in shared flats in Afrin

Russian mercenaries - a discrete weapon in Syria

Iran protests ban on wrestler who threw bout to avoid Israel

Battle to free Mosul of IS 'intellectual terrorism'

Turkey frees Garman-Turk journalist after one year without charge

Turkey hands life sentences to 3 journalists for Gulen links

Prominent jihadist commander killed by rival Syria rebels

300 Russians killed in Syria battle last week

Tillerson, Erdogan have ‘productive, open’ talk

Iran raises rates, freezes accounts in bid to shore up rial

Kremlin says five Russians killed in US Syria strikes

Oman FM in rare visit by Arab official to Jerusalem

Senior IS leader extradited to Iraq from Turkey

Strikes hit another hospital in Syria's Idlib

Churches snub Jerusalem reception over tax dispute with Israeli authorities

Tillerson says US never gave 'heavy arms' to Kurdish YPG

Captured foreign IS suspects claim innocence

Yemeni mother awaits death penalty for spying for UAE

Fuel shortage shuts down Gaza's only power plant

Morocco arrests three suspected IS terrorists

Family of dead environmentalist in Iran threatened

Israel hands life sentence to Palestinian for triple murder

US appeals to Turkey to concentrate on fighting IS

Turkey sets up new 'observation point' in Syria's Idlib

Malaysia rejects criticism over Israeli visit

Tillerson in Ankara to ease Turkey tensions

Egypt arrests ex-presidential candidate

Tillerson: Hezbollah is part of Lebanon's 'political process'

Netanyahu says government ‘stable’ despite police recommending indictment

Corruption accusations facing Netanyahu

Syria denies ‘unacceptable’ chemical weapons use

Nations pledge nearly $25 billion toward Iraq's reconstruction

Egypt remands in custody former anti-corruption chief

Turkish PM 'hopes' German journalist is freed soon

US agrees to send $1 billion in annual aid to Jordan

Iran arrests money changers amid rial collapse

Saudi Arabia seeks to further reduce oil stockpiles

Turkey imposes curfews in Kurdish-majority province

Tillerson urges allies to focus on fighting IS

France threatens Syria strikes if chemical attacks proven

Tillerson says enduring IS defeat not yet achieved