Syrian Canadians split over airstrikes
SYRIAN CANADIANS EXPRESS MIXED REACTIONS TO U.S.-LED AIRSTRIKES
Syrian Canadians expressed a range of reactions to the recent U.S.led airstrikes against Syria’s government, with some denouncing foreign aggression and others calling for even stronger action to end the conflict that has devastated the country.
Toronto resident Bayan Khatib was at a community fundraiser with other Syrian Canadians on Friday night when she learned the U.S., Britain and France had launched the joint airstrikes in retaliation for a suspected chemical-weapons attack on April 7 that killed 43 people and injured hundreds more in a rebelheld enclave near Damascus.
She said most of the Syrians in the room felt a mixture of optimism and worry.
“Many were excited there is finally something happening, that the (Syrian President Bashar) Assad regime will see some consequences, but other people were quite worried about civilian casualties, further destruction of Syria,” Khatib said.
“We worry that’s it’s not part of a larger strategy to end the war crimes in Syria, but just a show of power that’s going to scare the regime a little bit but then everything goes back to normal.”
She said too many governments are ignoring the atrocities in her home country and would like to see Canada take more of a leadership role in ending the conflict.
She also said she’s not impressed with the reaction of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who expressed support for the strikes but seems reluctant to get directly involved.
Khatib said she doesn’t believe most Canadians are aware of the true scale of the human rights atrocities that are striking her home country.
Were they to see the images she sees of bloodshed, torture, and bodies being pulled from the rubble, she believes Canadians would rise up and demand action, as they did in 2015 when a photograph of a lifeless Syrian toddler on a Turkish beach prompted an outpouring of humanitarian action.
“Trudeau is not acting because the Canadian public doesn’t know what is happening in Syria,” she said. “If they knew they would care.”
Muzna Dureid, a Syrian who came to Montreal a year and a half ago, agrees that Friday’s strikes don’t go far enough.
“We need more serious steps, more pressure to go to the negotiating table to find a political solution,” even if that includes military intervention, she said.
She was less critical of Canada, however, pointing out the country’s continuing humanitarian efforts in the region.