Sunday, June 10, 2012

Neil MacFarquhar and a random sample of the Syrian `Alawites

Neil MacFarquhar has a long article about split within the Syrian `Alawite community.  What is his sample of `Alawites?  Here, he tells you:  "But interviews with a dozen Alawites indicated a complex split even within their ranks."  I would say that a sample of 12 `Alawites, including one in Berkeley, California, is sufficient to generalize about the `Alawites in Syria, don't you? If MacFarquhar was a student of mine in an introductory class on journalism or statistics, I would have sent him to elementary school for a decade--at least.  And he tells you this:  "There were also anti-Assad chants in Alawite neighborhoods like Zahra in Homs, like: “Bashar became a Sunni!” (Mr. Assad’s wife, Asma al-Akhras, comes from a prominent family of Sunni Muslims from Homs.)"  But what is his source? It is top secret, so he won't tell you. Look at this sentence: what an insult to `Alawites:  "Now, even watching satellite channels critical of the Syrian government, like Al Jazeera, is considered treachery in Alawite communities."  Who consider watching the channel treacherous?  Who told you?   Now, of course, `Alawites (or some) have been in the forefront of opposition to the regime from 1970.  Members of the Communist Action Party have been treated with extra brutality by the regime because they are predominantly `Alawites. Having said that, the rise of blatantly sectarian and hateful voices (prominent) in the Syrian exile opposition and by the units of the Free Syrian Army have only made it impossible for `Alawites and others to join their ranks.  You want `Alawites to join Ma`mun Al-Humsi and `Adnan `Ar`ur who openly call for or threaten the extermination of `Alawites?  Having said that, what do I know when MacFarquhar and his assistants talked to 12 `Alawites.  Those twelve I hear speak for all `Alawites in Syria.