Sunday, June 30, 2013

Syrian civil war spills over to... Australia

(SMH) It was not so much a death threat as a declaration of war.

''You wanna go to war, you f---in' Shia dogs?'' the phone message says. ''We're taking all of you to war, in Sydney and overseas!''

It was 8pm and Jamal Daoud, an aspiring politician from Auburn was having dinner with his wife and children. An outspoken critic of the Free Syrian Army, Daoud is accustomed to abuse but this call was more frightening than most.

''You wanna kill our brothers and sisters overseas, we're gonna kill you motherf---ers here,'' the caller says.

''We know where [you] live. We're coming past [your] house and shoot at [it], if there are people inside we don't give a f---. You wanna spill blood, we're gonna spill blood, you f---in' dogs!''

After two years and an estimated 100,000 deaths, the civil war in Syria has spilled on to the streets of Sydney. Auburn, Lakemba and Bankstown are the new battle lines.

The Syrian conflict, which pits the Sunni-dominated rebellion against the Alawite regime of President Bashar al-Assad, has split the Middle East in two; the Sunni regimes of Saudi Arabia and Qatar and large Sunni population in Lebanon on one side, Iran, the Lebanese militia Hezbollah and the broader Shiite Muslim population, of which the Alawites are an offshoot, on the other.

In Sydney, it is splitting suburbs along the same sectarian lines.

"And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality."
Barack Obama, Cairo, June 4, 2009.