Secret memorandum by Headquarters of the British Troops
in the North Levant on 'The Christian-Moslem problem in Syria'.
* Fact that Maronites pushing for Christian control with
foreign/ overseas protection in order to prevent 'Moslem (sic)
domination' (Ref. 41)
Religious communities divided into: Christians, Maronites, Muslims
- Shia, Sunni, Alawites, Ismalis and Druzes.
Greatest section of Syrian population is Arab and Muslim
* Druzes and Alawites -'secret sects, but they probably take
something out of Christianity and paganism as well as from Islam'.
* Most important Christian sects- Greek Orthodox and Armenian
Orthodox - 'Past Relations of Christian and Moslem(sic) elements:
Ottoman Empire, Sultan felt 'little sympathy with religious minorities,
and too often the Turks solved the minority problem, particularly
the Armenian one, by applying the decisive proverb: 'Stone dead
hath no fellow'
However later, the Sultan, after pressure from Christian powers,
Russia, France and Britain, introduced a more 'statesmanlike attitude'-
toleration with the 'millet system' - religious head of each Christian
community responsible to government for good behaviour and loyalty
of his flock
However, millet system 'emphasised rather than reduced the differences
between the Christians and Moslems(sic) within the Empire, therefore
when France came to Syria there existed a state of religious disunity
born of years of religious discrimination under the Turks'. France
therefore maximised on this, with the 'divide and rule' policy
of playing the various communities against each other.
Different religious communities view the future, with the withdrawal
of Franco-British forces, differently:
*Arab Christians are less fearful and on good terms with the
Muslims, versus those foreign communities which are affiliated
to foreign powers - Maronites/Catholics.
* Jezireh -a 'special case' because a large number of various
Christian sects live there, hence suggestion that this area may
need special foreign patrol to ensure 'fair treatment of Christians.
Any appearance of favouritism towards the Christians at the expense
of the Moslems would have to be most carefully avoided'. (Ref.
Christian-Muslim question in the Lebanon is analysed. Considerable
difficulties continue because various reasons, including the 'divide
and rule policy of French Mandatory authorities, memories of former
intercommunal strife which still haunts the more backward Lebanon
and an increasing difference of culture because of the fact that
the Christians look Westwards and Moslems eastwards'
Notes on Christian and Muhammaden Situation in Syria and
the Lebanon (Ref. 70) written by Brigadier Friere, a Roman Catholic
'with considerable experience of the Levant States'
Main point - France instrumental and key role in alarming the
Christian communities of the dangers they would be exposed to
in event of French withdrawal from area.
French even involved the Vatican council:
'This theory of Christian danger is being exploited by the French
to the full in their arguments about the future of the Levant
States. It is a theory which causes some alarm among audiences
in Great Britain and America to whom the other side has been presented.
The Vatican mission has been dominated by and nationalised by
the French, as transpired during a recent visit by the Franciscan
superior to Aleppo. The Vatican, fed with misleading reports from
French sources, is unconsciously becoming and political tool of
the French.' (Ref. 71)
+ File on Muslim Brotherhood
interview of its leaders, Said Ramadhan, who travelled to US
to present 'the Muslim Brotherhood viewpoint'
* States it was founded in 1928 in Ismailia by Hasan al-Banna
'to create a religious organisation that would live up to the
truths and ideals of Islam'
* Refutes accusation that violence is a tactic organisation
indulge in, 'on contrary, it is used to try to stop us'
- British Embassy in Washington sarcastically remarked 'He was
"sweet reasonableness itself" and draws a picture of the MB as
a religious society working for the uplift of moral standards'
- Conflicts with Egyptian government of Nasser, states that
'peaceful coexistence no longer possible' and calls within the
MB for Nasser's assassination
- Some Brotherhood members were deported, including Said Ramadhan
- exiled to Syria
- Grand Council of the Ulema at Al Azhar University November
17th 1954, declared that the Muslim Brotherhood an un Islamic
organisation -a 'transgression against Islam" because of its use
of violence as a strategic tactic.
-MB activists on trial - five sentenced to death