Syrian nationalism | Wikipedia audio article

Syrian nationalism | Wikipedia audio article


Syrian nationalism, also known as “Pan-Syrian
nationalism”, refers to the nationalism of the region of Syria, or the Fertile Crescent
as a cultural or political entity known as “Greater Syria”. It should not be confused with the Arab nationalism
that is the official state doctrine of the Syrian Arab Republic’s ruling Arab Socialist
Ba’ath Party, nor should it be assumed that Syrian nationalism necessarily propagates
the interests of modern-day Syria or its government. Rather, it predates the existence of the modern
Syrian state (independent from French colonial rule in 1946), and refers to the loosely defined
Levantine region of Syria, known in Arabic as Ash-Shām (Arabic: ٱلـشَّـام‎).==History==Syrian nationalism arose as a modern school
of thought in the late 19th century, in conjunction with the Nahda movement, then sweeping the
Ottoman-ruled Arab world. The first Syrian nationalist is considered
to be Butrus al-Bustani, a Mount Lebanon-born convert from the Maronite Church to Protestantism,
who started one of the region’s first newspapers, Nafir Suria in Beirut in the aftermath of
the Mount Lebanon civil war of 1860 and the massacre of Christians in Damascus in the
same year. Bustani, who was deeply opposed to all forms
of sectarianism, said Ḥubb al-Waṭan min al-Īmān (Arabic: حُـبّ الْـوَطَـن
مِـن الْإِیْـمَـان‎, “Love of the Homeland is a matter of Faith”). As early as 1870, when discerning the notion
of fatherland from that of nation and applying the latter to Greater Syria, Francis Marrash
would point to the role played by language, among other factors, in counterbalancing religious
and sectarian differences, and thus, in defining national identity. This distinction between fatherland and nation
was also made by Hasan al-Marsafi in 1881.==Ideology==Syrian nationalism posited a common Syrian
history and nationality, grouping all the different religious sects and variations in
the area, as well as the region’s mixture of different peoples. Thus, while not per se anti-Arab it opposed
the Arab nationalist ideology and its pan-Arab underpinnings, that somewhat later was to
grow all over the Arab world, not least in Syria itself. It opposes any particular Arab claims to these
areas, preferring an all-encompassing Syrian nationality; also, it is a generally secular
movement, believing that a Syrian can have any religion indigenous to the area: Sunni
or Shia Muslim, Christian or Jewish. This has attracted many Christians to it (as
well as to the equally non-religious Arab nationalism), since the Christian churches
form a religious minority in the Middle East, and often fear being dwarfed by Muslim majority
populations. Syrian nationalism often advocates a “Greater
Syria”, based on ancient concepts of the boundaries of the region then known as Syria (stretching
from southern Turkey through Lebanon, Palestine into Jordan), but also including Cyprus, Iraq,
Kuwait, the Ahvaz region of Iran, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Kilikian region of Turkey. A modern-day political movement that advocates
these borders, is the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), founded in 1932 by Antun Saadeh. The present-day borders of the area are seen
as artificial and illegitimate imperial divisions, imposed on the region by the Anglo-French
Sykes–Picot Agreement and as well as the creation of Israel as an independent state. However, the SSNP accepted from an early stage
that specific political and communal conditions in Lebanon meant that for the time being Lebanon
would have to remain in existence as a separate state. In later years, and particularly since 1970,
the main body of the party has also come to adopt a more nuanced position regarding Arab
nationalism. It no longer openly proclaims that the Syrian
people are non-Arabs, but rather regards Greater Syria as playing a vanguard role among the
Arab peoples. Smaller factions which split from the party
maintain a position inimical to Arab nationalism, however.==See also==
Fertile Crescent

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