Muslim preacher Sheikh Adnan Al Aroor has become one of the Syrian uprising’s symbolic figures and a source of motivation for those who aspire for ousting the regime of President Bashar Al Assad in Syria. Through his speeches broadcast on religious channel al-Safa, widely watched in Syria, Sheikh Aroor often encourages people to continue demonstrating until the Assad regime is brought down.
The 73-year-old Aroor fled Syria under the rule of Hafez Al Assad following the 1982 Massacre in his hometown of Hama and settled in Saudi Arabia ever since.
Sheikh Aroor is seen by many as a moderate Sunni cleric who supports democratic reforms and who has long stood against the Baathist regime.
Before the outbreak of the Syrian uprising, he was known for debating his views on Islam with the senior Shiite scholars through al-Safa channel.
He was the first among the Syrian clerics to criticize the Assad’s regime after the massive bloodshed in Daraa. He denounced clerics who have supported President Assad, accusing them of having received bribes in exchange for their silence.
In his speeches, Sheikh Aroor stresses the importance of peaceful rebellion against the regime, which he describes as oppressive: “I am expecting a devastating revolution, and I call upon the websites to remind the people of it... Rush for their rescue, and you’ll lessen the pressure on them, death is easier than indignity... do not let some sheikhs, who received large amounts of money mislead you.” he said in one video posted on Youtube.
In another video, he urged “the young people of the revolution” to gather in “millions” and stage peaceful protests against the regime of President Assad.
“If you will be shot at, run away! But if they shoot at you, we’ll have an advantage out of it”, said the influential Sheikh. He suggested “if the security forces act against you, back away from confrontation. If they (security) leave, come back on the streets and demonstrate. Go to the streets – quiet and peaceful. Don’t carry knives with you. God willing, we will see later whether this regime will be brought to fall.”
In his most viewed Youtube view, Shiekh Aroor tells the story of severals fathers who went to a police station to inquire about the fate of their detained children.
“Children were imprisoned and tortured... so their fathers went to see the security officer Atef Najib, one of the most disgraceful and most sinister people around President Bashar... When the fathers asked Atef Najib about their children, he answered: Forget your children, go to your wives and make other babies and if you cannot make babies, bring your women and we will do it.”
Sheikh Aroor’s speeches and stories about the uprising and the atrocious acts of the Assad’s regime contributed to widening the rift between the regime and the people. The relationship between the regime and citizens has developed from one based on disagreement and conflict to a relationship of enmity and hatred, some observers say.
The Syrian regime has arrested Sheikh Aroor’s 85-year-old mother who is suffering from heart disease and cancer. She was detained and tortured in revenge for her son’s opposition to President Assad and his regime.