A friend of mine listened to the sermon given at the Ramadan evening prayer in a village near the north Syria town of Idleeb August 7. The closer one gets to ground level in the Middle East, the crazier things become. Sure, by the time the Western-educated, suit and tie wearing leader sits down with the Western reporter everything sounds calm and cool. But the earth is boiling. Just as the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood blames Israel for a jihadist attack on an Egyptian military base in Sinai — the Egyptian military, more pragmatically, attacked the jihadist camps — the grassroots leaders and rank and file are easily incited into murderous frenzy.
So here are the main points in the Idleeb sermon:
– The preacher never used the word “Syria” or “as-Suriya,” but only as “Bilad ash-Sham.” That’s a jihadist Salafist designation rejecting the existence of nation-states. In other words, “Syria” is merely a province of a future Islamic caliphate. Note: some people dispute this and suggest that Bilad ash-Sham is standard usage nowadays.
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