The Hama Massacre – reasons, supporters of the rebellion, consequences

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2006

46 Pages, Grade: 1



1 Introduction

2 The Hama Massacre and its forerunners

3 Stage A: Syria - Internal supporters of the Hama revolt:
3.1 Excursus:The Alawis/Nusairis (Sources: Seale, Asad, pp. 252/253; Kramer., Syria’s Alawis and Shi‘ism)

4 Stage B: The Middle East - Regional supporters of the Hama revolt

5 Stage C: The international level: The interests of the superpowers and its allies in the Hama Revolt

6 Stage D: West Germany
6.1 Three ways how West Germany supported the Syrian Brotherhood
6.2 West German media coverage of the Hama rebellion
6.3 The roots of the Muslim Brotherhood in West Germany

7 Conclusion



The Hama Massacre – reasons, supporters of the rebellion, consequences

With a special emphasis on the triangle between the Asad, the Muslim Brotherhood and West Germany

“I tell this story because it's important that we understand that Syria, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia have all faced Islamist threats and crushed them without mercy or Miranda rights. Part of the problem America now faces is actually the fallout from these crackdowns. Three things happened: First, once the fundamentalists were crushed by the Arab states they fled to the last wild, uncontrolled places in the region — Lebanon's Bekaa Valley and Afghanistan — or to the freedom of America and Europe. [i] Friedman, T.L., 2001

1 Introduction

In February 1982 the Syrian city of Hama became well known worldwide as the place of the “Hama massacre”. After an uprising of Muslim rebels, mainly consisting of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, Syrian government forces crushed the rebellion “with brutal force[ii] .“Select Syrian army units…under the control of General Ali Haydar besieged the city for 27 days, bombarding it with heavy artillery and tank (fire) before invading it and killing 30.000 to 40.000 of the city´s citizens in addition to 15.000 missing who have not been found to this day….”[iii]Many civilians were slaughtered, whole districts razed and numerous act of savagery reported…(and) a third of the inner city was demolished”.[iv] Preceding the fighting was an ambush against government army units in the night between 2nd to 3rd of February, who searched for dissidents in Hama. Snipers of the guerrilla commander Abu Bakr[v] killed some of the soldiers and Bakr gave the command for a general uprising. The call of Jihad against the Ba´th was called in the city. ”At this signal hundreds of Islamic fighters rose from their hiding places. Killing and looting, they burst into the homes of officials and party leaders, overran police posts and ransacked armouries in a bid to seize power in the city.[vi] On February 3rd, Hama was declared a “liberated city”, some 70 leading Ba´thists were killed by the terrorists and Asad was faced with the largest urban insurrection in the history of his reign.

This incident evoked heavy condemnation of the so-called pro-Moscow military regime of Asad[vii] in the German press. It was accused to “be one of the bloodiest regimes in the Middle East, shaken from fear of espionage and with pro-soviet declarations and refusal of any peace policy overbidding itself every day anew.”[viii] The Asad regime was portrayed in West German newspapers, just as in the writings of the Brotherhood[ix], as a sectarian minority regime; the Sunni majority was portrayed as restrained under Alawi minority rule[x] and little distinction was made between the goals of the Brotherhood and the goals of the Syrian masses.[xi]

The media coverage of Syria resembled in those times, the middle of the cold war, in wording and content the media coverage of the eastern Block, especially the German Democratic republic (GDR). The pro-Asad demonstrations after the Hama incident at the anniversary of the seizure of power of the Ba´th party, were commented with sentences like. “The core of the demonstrators were transported with busses from one place to the other[xii], an explanation also commonly used in West German media during the cold war to explain pictures of public pro-GDR or pro-Soviet demonstrations as directed by the government.

The Hama incident was an example of state brutality and a violation of civil and human rights in order to crush a rebellion, a counter-terrorism measure which seemed very exaggerated if taken out of the temporal national and regional context. But regarding the situation of Asad in 1982, one year after the assassination of Sadat by the Brotherhood in 1981 was follow by leaflets distributed in Damaskus that warned Asad of the same fate and regarding the brutality of the preceding attacks of the Brotherhood against the Syrian ruler might help to understand the gravity of the threat and the necessity of the measures as the last option to defend the rule of Asad against the Brotherhood, an organisation that in goals and measures was at least as totalitarian and terroristic as Asad himself.[xiii]

Preceding this battle were many years of fighting between the Brotherhood and the Syrian ruling Ba´th party. Already in the late 60s and early 70s, leaders of the Brotherhood recognized that the oppression of the Ba´thist regime could only be ended through well organised armed struggle, and they took the decision in the early 1970s to bear arms and begin preparation for the ultimate confrontation with the regime.[xiv] The Brotherhood openly declared Jihad against Hafiz Asad´s regime, according to An-Nadhir, on 8.2.1976.[xv]

In the late 70s and early 80s the Brotherhood executed many attacks against the government, on 26.6.1980 Asad himself barely escaped death from a terrorist attack.[xvi] Seale claims that after the Hama-uprising: “The regime itself (was) shook….Hama was a last-ditch battle which one side or the other had to win and which, one way or the other, would decide the fate of the country.”[xvii] Friedman confirms that it was a zero-sum game, both sides knew that the winner will win everything and the looser be destroyed.[xviii]

A stronghold of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in exile during those times was West Germany. Syrian Muslim Brothers had influence in Islamic Centers, such as the “Islamic Center Aachen” and the “IZM-Islamic Center Munich” and were organised in the “Syrian National Committee Germany and Austria”[xix]. Many members of the Brotherhood had fled from Syrian persecution to Germany, lured on the one hand by the German asylum law on the one hand, which guarantees asylum to political pursued[xx] and on the other hand by the long-term roots of Arabs in Germany, dating back to the time before WW2.( see: chapter 6)

This Syrian exile-group influenced not only the media coverage of the Hama incident, but also caused a continuation of the fight between Syria and the Brotherhood on German territory after the Hama incident. On 3rd of March 1982 the BKA, German National Police, arrested a group of three Syrians that was accused of having planned attacks against the Brotherhood in Germany.[xxi] The German newspaper “Pfälzischer Merkur” reported that Asad had hinted before to execute the fight against the Brotherhood from then on also in foreign countries[xxii] After the detention a Syrian group – which was said to be linked to Asad - in Lebanon obtained the release of the three men, threatening to execute bomb attacks against Germans in Lebanon if the men were not released. Because of the threats Germany released the three men to Syria and shut down several German institutes in Beirut. Hence the fight between Asad and the Brotherhood worsened the barely existing relations between and Syria and West Germany, which felt blackmailed by Asad.

This paper aims to examine the reasons, supporters and consequences of the Hama massacre, especially the triangle between Asad, the Brotherhood and West Germany. I raise the question, why the Brotherhood in exile in its fight against Asad acted mainly from West Germany and what reasons West Germany had to support or tolerate those actions. This question will include an analysis of the different groups and countries, internal, regional and international, involved in the support of the Hama incident – supporting Asad or the Brotherhood and of the profits they expected from a destabilisation of Syria. On a global level I will classify the Hama incident into the terms of cold war and the involvement of the Superpowers USA and USSR in the Middle East in 1982. In order to access the role of West Germany I will put an emphasis on an analysis of West German newspaper articles about the Hama incident, the cooperations between West German and USA and the West German-Syrian relations in 1982 and analyse from wording and content the intentions of West Germany in the incident. Furthermore I will examine the foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood in Germany and explain why especially Germany played a key role in the exile of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and its foundation in Europe.

This paper does not aim to describe details of the Hama incident, which can be read in the book of Thomas Friedman (1998):”From Beirut to Jerusalem” Harper Collins Publishers, London; or in a publication of the Muslim Brotherhood related publisher house dar el-itisaam: “Hama: Tragedy of our time”, Cairo,1984. It aims rather to describe regional and international connections and influences , reasons and aftermaths of this incident, especially the role of the Brotherhood and West Germany.

My research about the Hama massacre is based on books about Syria and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, such as Seale,P., Asad; Abd-Allah, the Islamic struggle in Syria; Fisk, R., Pity the nations; Ma´oz, M., Middle Eastern Minorities; Friedman, T., From Beirut to Jerusalem, especially the chapter “Hama rules”; further on several articles in magazines, material from the Library of Congress Country Studies and on an analysis of the German media coverage of the incident. In order to find information about the backgrounds of the Hama massacre I used various articles about Syria, its involvement in the Lebanon war, the economic developments in the late 70s and early 80s in Syria, the involvement of the superpowers in the Middle East and the cold war and articles about the Muslim Brotherhood and fundamental Islamist organisations in general, which can be found in the Bibliography. This texts did usually not deal specifically with the Hama massacre, but provided me a basis of how to access the incident and how to filter biased texts and newspaper articles about an incident and the role of the Brotherhood as well as interests of other states; articles which were often used for anti-Syrian propaganda from the West and anti-Western propaganda from Syria.

In order to access the connection between Syria and Eastern Germany, during the 80s an enemy of West Germany and object of anti-communist propaganda, I used furthermore official documents of Syrian-East German cooperations and treaties, which can be found in the internet ( see bibliography).

The hardest obstacle while writing this paper was to get access to the West-German interests in tolerating or indirectly supporting the exile-activities of the Syrian Brotherhood from German ground. Searching about the history of Islam in Germany I found information about cooperations between Hitler and the Brotherhood and found out that many of those Muslims had stayed in Germany and built up their own communities. I found furthermore literature that proved the close cooperation between West German and US-.American strategic objectives in the Middle East. But little was written about the official position of West Germany in the 1980s towards the Brotherhood in Syria or Germany after WW2. Especially I found a lack of critical articles dealing with the program and goals of the Brotherhood in distinction to the will of the Sunni majority of Syria and a missing differentiation in the media coverage between fundamental and moderate Islam as well as between individual religious freedom and enforced religious laws. My conclusions are therefore based on conclusions from the behaviour, the interests, and the role of Germany, the USA, Syria and the Brotherhood and the analysis of the media coverage in West German newspapers in wording and content.

2 The Hama Massacre and its forerunners

The conservative city of Hama in central Syria has always been a center of the anti-Ba´th opposition, in addition to other urban centers, such as Aleppo and Hams. Opposition consisted Sunni fundamentalists, parts of them members of the Muslim Brotherhood, but also of other groups that were disadvantaged from the regime of Asad. Among them were local shopkeepers and artisans who had an interest in maintaining their autonomy from financiers and state administrators[xxiii] and local notables who were stripped of political influence.[xxiv] Friedman furthermore mentions that the Muslim Workers Union and young seculars, who were disappointed by the oppressive measures of Asad´s troops against the people of Hama in the past, supported the rebellion.[xxv] Hama has always been a radical religious city and a center of Muslim fundamental organisatins, opposing the secular regime in Damascus. Already in 1961 a group of students from Damascus university who wanted to stop in Hama was forced back into the bus by an angry crowd, because the girls were in trousers.[xxvi] Hama was furthermore the hometown of Marwan Hadid, a Muslim fanatic who died in June 1976 in Syrian jail after a hunger-strike and became a marthyr. His death was often proclaimed as one reason for the declaration of Jihad in 1976 by the Brotherhood against Asad´s regime.[xxvii]

Since 1979 Syria had experienced many uprisings and fights between Islamic Mudejaheddin and special forces of Asad. In June 1979 a massacre of Muslim rebels against an Artillery school marked the beginning of a full-scare urban warfare against Alawis[xxviii], Aleppo, another main city of opposition which was like Hama hard to control with its little streets where cars could not drive, was occupied in August1980 for one whole year by the government forces, the division of general Shafiq Fayadh.[xxix] , fights were also reported from Homs and Hama in 1981 [xxx].

Since Asad narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in 26th.6.1980 he had hardened his policy against the insurgents. On the following day defence companies of his brother Rif´at killed some five hundred prisoners[xxxi], all members of the Brotherhood, in a jail in Palmyra and on July the 8th membership in the Muslim Brotherhood was made a capital offence.[xxxii] When Islamic terrorists killed Anwar AL-Sadat in 6. October 1981, leaflets in Damascus threatened Asad with the same fate[xxxiii]; not later than now Asad probably began to see that this fight was not only a political one but a personal fight for life and death, a zero-sum game that can be won only by one side destroying the other.

The Hama uprising started at 2 a.m. in the night of 2.-3- February 1982 when an army unit combing the old city fell in an ambush, Jihad was declared and a strong guerrilla force killed and looted the homes of officials and party leaders, killing some 70 leading Ba´thists.[xxxiv] After that the guerrilla declared the city “liberated”. Asad, aware that all his former methods had come short in stopping the Islam militants, started a drastic example of anti-terror fighting and sent all troops and forces available to Hama, the city was besieged by some 12 000 men- other sources mention only 6000 to 8000[xxxv].On 16.2. Asad even ordered the 3000 men strong special forces under the command of his brother Rif´at to withdraw from Lebanon, where they had been deployed as part of the Syrian “peacekeeping force”, and ordered them to support the battle in Hama.[xxxvi] During the three weeks of “civil war[xxxvii] some soldiers probably deserted and the troops of Asad killed about 20.000 people, including many civilians.

The exact number of killed persons is not known until today and, as much of the reports about Hama, object of political bias. This is also a result of the fact that during the incident journalists were not allowed to enter the city and most of the reports are based on testimonies of eyewitnesses or diplomats, both of them mainly biased. The number varies from 3000, the official stand of the Syrian government[xxxviii], to 30.000[xxxix] out of a population of [xl] According to Amnesty International about 10.000 to 25.000 people, mainly civilians, were killed [xli].Seale estimates the number lower and claims: ”A figure between 5.000 to 10.000 could be close to the truth.”[xlii] The Syrian Human Rights Committee claims furthermore that in addition to the death 10.000 persons disappeared.

The question whether troops of Asad deserted was also a matter of political propaganda, hence the reports varied depending on the political intention of the author. A large number of deserting troops would prove that the regime of Asad was working against the will of his people and the rebellion of the Muslim Brotherhood was not only a rebellion of some Islamist extremists, but widely supported by other parts of the Syrian people. It would furthermore encourage people who are still afraid of Asad´s troops to join the rebellion, if they believed there was a real chance of winning it. Fisk, an eyewitness of Hama during the rebellion, reported that one soldier claimed “Some of our people, our soldiers, have gone to the other side” and one officer asked another: “Why don’t they let us fight on Golan instead of this?” [xliii] which proved that there was a sense of discontent among the Syrian army. Seale mentions only that some deserted to join insurgents[xliv], avoiding giving exact numbers. Lawson, an author who described the reasons of the Hama revolt mainly in social and economical terms, avoiding to mention sectarian strifes or an oppressive regime of Asad, does only mention civilians joining the rebellion, claiming that “Whether or not Syrian army units defected to the rebel’s side remains an open – and politically very sensitive – question. Later accounts suggested that the rebels had dressed in regular army uniforms and this constituted the basis for reports about defections” [xlv]. Abd-Allah on the other hand, whose book “The Islamic Struggle in Syria” supports the demands of the Brotherhood against Asad, claims that “parts of the brigades 21 and 47 mutinied.” [xlvi], The West German newspaper FAZ also claims that probably some members of the 47th tank brigade and the 21st brigade mutinied.[xlvii]. The West German “Rhein Zeitung” claims that – according to information from the Israeli secret service a complete brigade deserted and joined the rebels.[xlviii] This newspaper, however, writes in the same style as Abd-Allah, claiming that the Sunni majority in Syria hates the Alawi rulers, which are considered to be godless. The style of the article describes Asad as a military regime that can only remain in power because it uses force against the Sunni majority and does not differentiate between the aims of the Sunni majority and the Brotherhood. By that it follows the argumentation of the Brotherhood.

These two examples of diverse reports from the same event were given in order to demonstrate how biased most of the books and articles about the Hama massacre are, using details that can not be proven in order to support their own bias. It demonstrates furthermore that West German newspapers often followed often the argumentation of the Brotherhood in the description of the events and the accusations against Asad, the reasons for that will be examined in chapter 6.

After this action the power of the Brotherhood in Syria was broken. The leader of the Brotherhood in Hama, Adib el Kilani was killed and the goal of Asad, to “banish such Puritanism once and for all” [xlix] was successful. Ma´oz confirms this, claiming:”This suppression of the Hama revolt undoubtedly neutralized the Islamic opposition to Asad´s regime for a long period” [l], Friedman confirms: “That Syria has not had a Muslim extremist problem since” [li] and also Lucas states: “There has understandably been no serious opposition to the regime since”. [lii] But Asad paid a heavy price for this security. The former UN official Brian Urquhard calls it the “unacceptable face” of the regime, “a formidable and secretive autocracy sustained by pragmatic ruthlessness.” [liii] Ma´oz, who explains the problems in Syria as mainly in sectarian terms, claims that these actions “further alienated other Sunni Muslims, conservative and liberal alike.” [liv] And Seale states that this time enlarged the solitary and authoritarian aspects of Asad´s personality, claiming: ” In 1970 he (Asad) was popular, by 1982 he was feared.” [lv]

3 Stage A: Syria - Internal supporters of the Hama revolt:

The internal reasons for the Hama uprising are identified by most authors as an attempt of the Brotherhood to overthrow the hated regime of Asad. The Brotherhood had been able to organise openly as a political party until the early 50s and again after the break of the UAR in the early 60s, until the Ba´th coup in March 1963. In 1961 the Brotherhood had gained 10 seats in parliament, after the coup the Brotherhood lost the parliamentary opportunity and the leader of the Brotherhood, Isam al Attar, was exiled and went to West Germany.[lvi] But beside the Brotherhood other Islamic groups opposed Asad, the Aleppo-based Islamic Liberation Party which was established in Jordan in the 50s, the Muhammad’s Youth, Jundullah (Soldiers of God) and Marwan Hadids Group, often called At Tali´a al Muqatilia (Fighting Vanguard)[lvii]

A main reason for the fight against the Ba´th can be found simply in the fact that the political arm of the Brotherhood was declared illegal under the Ba´th and that the Ba´th as a socialistic party, is a natural competitor with the Brotherhood for the support of the working class, both claim to fight for the values of equality, a fair distribution of wealth, a fight for the simple people against big landlords and against Western and American influences[lviii].

A main criticism from the Brotherhood against Asad was the accusation that he would work for Israel and the USA and against Islam and the Palestinian cause. The Brotherhood linked this accusation with sectarian strifes, claiming: ”… the Nusairis (= Alawis) have played a…role of subservience to imperialist interests. …The Nusairis… in Syria now...and in the past, they played similar roles of direct complicity in support of the crusaders…against the Muslim population of the region.” [lix]

3.1 Excursus:The Alawis/Nusairis
(Sources: Seale, Asad, pp. 252/253; Kramer., Syria’s Alawis and Shi‘ism)

The Question if the group of Alawis, to which Asad´s family belongs, is recognized as Muslims or not has political consequences not only for the situation inside Syria, but also for the relations between Syria and Iran.

The Alawis constitute about 1 Mio persons, 12% of the Syrian population. Living in the mountainous corner of Syria they claim to represent the furthest extension of 12-er Shi´ism. Alawi religion is an esoteric knowledge, preserved only by a few initiated sheikhs (shuyukh al-din), the mass of the uninitiated Alawis knew only the exoteric feature of their faith. Since the 19th century some of the secret esoteric texts of the Alawis were published, they showed some indisputable Shi´ite roots but also some unorthodox believes, such as astral Gnosticism and transmigration of souls. Prayer was not regarded as an obligation, since religious truth was in the hands of a few sheikhs only and also mosques were not built in Alawi regions. Because of this lack of exoteric signs of Islam, Sunni heresiographers viewed Alawis as disbelievers (kuffar). Twelver Shi´ite heresiographers were a bit less vituperative and regarded them as “ghulat” (= “Those who exceed” all bounds in their deification of Ali).

The first time that Alawis were recognized as Muslims was in 1936 by the Sunni Mufti of Palestine and President of the General Islamic Congress of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini. It was the time of the end of French mandate and the Alawis realised that separatism, which served well under French rule, would disadvantage them in Syrian independence. Sunnis wished to integrate Alawis in the new state in order to lower resistance and possible opposition and decided that a recognition of Alawis as Muslim would serve both groups best.

In 1936 a group of Alawi shaikhs declared Alawis as believing Muslims, performing the five basic obligations (arkan) of Islam and soon after that al-Husseini issued a fatwa that declared them Muslims and called on all Muslims to work together for the good of Islam. One of the reasons for the Mufti might also have been that 1936 was the year that the Mufti called for general strike against the British in Palestine, supported by the Muslim Brotherhood. In times of war it is important to solve internal Arab conflicts.[lx] The authorities of the 12-er Shi´ites were not involved in this recognition and still regarded Alawis as “ghulat”; furthermore the recognition came from Jerusalem, not from Damascus, which made it questionable.

Thirty years later the problem arose anew. In 1973, two years after Asad became the first Alawi President of Syria; his government released a new draft constitution that would abolish Islam as the state religion. Sunni riots followed and forced Asad to change the text, stipulating that the president must be Muslim. But this change could not stop the riots and the resentment of the Sunni majority that had once embraced the Alawis in order to achieve help in their fight for an independent Syria, but now found themselves beaten by the results of this: ruled by a minority.

The dislike of the Alawi minority is deep rooted in Syrian society, Friedman states that fundamental Sunnis referred to the Alawis as “kuffar” (unbeliever) and radical seculars, that they accused them of coming to power only because of their role in the military and the Ba´th party, and the Sunni nobles thought Alawi, whom they regarded to be ignorant peasants, are not worth of being in power.[lxi]

After the riots the Alawi sheikhs realised the urgent need to be also by the 12-er Shi´ites officially recognized as Muslim. The solution appeared in the person of Imam Musa al-Sadr, head of the Lebanese Shi´a Supreme Council, who had his own power interests in recognizing the Alawis. He attempted to bring the Lebanese Alawis of the north under his jurisdiction in order to extend his reach from the Shi´a south of Lebanon to the north. But in order to reach this goal he first had to deal with the Syrian Alawis. Al-Sadr had been in dialogue with the Alawis since 1969 and now things went pretty fast: Asad needed a quick recognition, al-Sadr aimed to become a powerful patron of the Lebanese Alawis: In July 1973 al-Sadr, an accepted authority of 12-er Shi´ism, recognised Alawis as Muslims.


[i] Friedman, T.L., Hama Rules, New York Times editorial, 21.9.2001

[ii] Library of Congress Country Studies: Syria, Ethnic and Religious Opposition Movements,

[iii] Hadidi, S., The Hama massacre and the Syrian “experience” in fighting terrorism, Al Quds Al Arabi (London), 11.01.02; the numbers given are uncertain, see footnote Nr. 38

[iv] Seale, P., Asad, p.333

[v] Abu Bakr was the „nom de guerre“ of Umar Jawwad

[vi] Seale,P., Asad, p. 332

[vii] see: Ranke, P.M., Nur noch mit Gewalt, Die Welt, 12.2.1982, see also: Kordt, W., Der Schock von Hama, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 7.4.1982. see also: Ranke, P.M., Schweigen über Hama, Die Welt, 19.2.1982

[viii] Ranke, P.M., Nur noch mit Gewalt, Die Welt, 12.2.1982

[ix] See: ‘Umar ‘Abd-al-Hakim, The Confrontation Between the Sunni Population of Al Sham against Al-Naserieh ,Crusaders and Jews, Kabul, Afghanistan, 22.6.2000; this new document resembles in argumentation and wording the Muslim Brotherhood of the 80s in Syria. See furthermore: Abd-Allah, The Islamic Struggle of Syria, p 44 (Abd-Allah mentions of the word “crusaders”, accusing Asad to serve the interests of the crusaders; ibid, p. 45 (Abd-Allah mentions incitement against the Alawis, who are accused of being allowed to do sodomy and for not keeping the main pillars of Islam and having more in common with Christians or Phoenicians than with Islam).

[x] See: Trierscher Volksfreund, Volksaufstand gegen Asad Herrschaft, 12.2.1982;

[xi] See: Binswanger, K., Wie Asad den Syrern den Islam austreiben will, Luzerner Neueste Nachrichten, 17.10.1981: This article describes the resistance of the Syrian civilians against Alawi pioneers (the term pioneers was also used for East German youth organisations) who ripped down the veil of women on the streets of Damascus.

See furthermore: Trierscher Volksfreund, Volksaufstand gegen Assad-Herrschaft, 12.2.1982: This article describes the rebellion in Hama as a rebellion of the Syrian people, the Sunni majority which is unhappy of being ruled by a minority of Alawis. Again the sectarian element is highlighted, the Sunni majority is equalled in their goals with the Muslim Brotherhood and the government of Asad described as a minority regime imposing its will by the use of military force over the majority.

[xii] Kordt, W., Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Der Schock von Hama, 7.4.1982

[xiii] about Syria’s alleged use of terrorism to achieve diplomatic, military and strategic objectives in the Middle East in the 80s, see for example: Syria-Sponsorship of terrorism, Library of Congress Country Studies, p.1

[xiv] see: Reissner, J., Ideologie und Politik der Muslimbrüder Syriens, von den Wahlen 1947 bis zum Verbot unter Adib as_Siskali 1952, Islamkundliche Untersuchungen, vol. 55, Freiburg im Breisgau, Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 1980; cited in: Abd-Allah,U.F., The Islamic Struggle in Syria, , p. 108

[xv] see: An-Nadhir, 2:2, cited in: Abd-Allah, Dr. U.F., The Islamic Struggle in Syria, p. 109. The reason for this date was not explained in the article, Abd-Allah mentions that the“ first shot of Jihad” was given when the news of the death of the Muslim Brethen and imam of the Barudiya mosque Marwan Hadid “under the brutal torture of the Ba´thist regime” (ibid, p. 109) spread. Seale, on the other hand, dates the death of Hadid to June 1976, when he died in a military hospital after a hunger-strike. Seale further claims that Asad tried to prevent Hadid from dying and even sent Hadid´s brother Kan´an, then a Syrian diplomat in Tehran, to persuade him to stop the hunger strike. (Seale, Asad, p. 324)

[xvi] see: Seale, P., Asad, p. 328. In this incident the personal bodyguard of Asad, Khalid al-Husayn, saved Asad´s life by jumping on a grenade next to them, he died in this incident.

[xvii] ibid, p. 333

[xviii] see: Friedman,T., From Beirut to Jerusalem, p. 80

[xix] see: Frankfurter Rundschau, Syrer appellieren an DRK und Amnesty International, 18.3.1982

[xx] The definition of political pursued persons included the Syrian Brotherhood, especially after Asad had ratified in 19.7.1980 following a failed assassination attempt on him, law No. 49, which declared membership in the Muslim Brotherhood as a capital offence.

[xxi] See: Neue Presse, Terrorkommando aus Syrien in Stuttgart gestellt, 3.3.1982

[xxii] see: Pfälzischer Merkur, Sprengstoff- Fund in Homburg: Terroranschlag verhindert?, 2.3.1982,

[xxiii] see: Lawson,F.H., Social Bases for the Hamah Revolt, MERIP Reports No. 11, Syria’s Troubles, 11/12 1982, pp. 24-28, p. 27

[xxiv] see: Seale, P., Asad, p.321

[xxv] see: Friedman, T., From Beirut to Jerusalem, pp. 77-80

[xxvi] see: Seale, P., Asad, p. 334

[xxvii] see: Abd-Allah, Dr. U.F., The Islamic Struggle in Syria, p. 109

[xxviii] Seale, P., Asad, p. 324

[xxix] see: ibid, p. 328

[xxx] see: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Berichte über Massaker in Hama und Homs, 3.6.1981

[xxxi] This number is taken from Seale, P. Asad, p. 329. The Syrian Human Rights Committee estimates the number of dead persons about 1000. (See: SHRC, Genocide and a crime against humanity, 2.2.2006, The high emotional wording, the missing links to other human rights organisations such as amnesty international and the fact that the SHRC does not mention sources make it probably biased.

[xxxii] see: Seale,P., Asad, p.329

[xxxiii] see: ibid, p.331

[xxxiv] see: ibid, p.332

[xxxv] the number 12.000 is used by Seale,P., Asad, p. 333 based on a Report from Hama by Fisk,R., The Times,, 19.2.1982; the German newspapers Frankfurter Rundschau and Trierscher Volksfreund claim that the number of soldiers deployed by Asad is about 6 to 8000 (see: Frankfurter Rundschau, Aus Syrien wird Rebellion gegen Asad-Regime gemeldet, 12.2.1982; see also: Trierscher Volksfreund, Volksaufstand gegen Asad-Herrschaft, 12.2.1982)

[xxxvi] see: Berliner Morgenpost/dpa, Kämpfe halten an – Syrien zog Libanon Truppen ab, 17.2.1982

[xxxvii] Seale,P., Asad, p.333 claims this incident was not an ordinary military operation but a civil war

[xxxviii] see: ibid, p. 334, see also:

[xxxix] The number is given by the Syrian Human Rights Committee, see: SHRC, The Massacres of Hama: Law Enforcement Requires Accountability, 1.2.2005; the same number is also mentioned in Abd-Allah, The Islamic Struggle in Syria, p. 192. Ma´oz, M. claims a very vague number between 10.000 and 30.000 victims ( Ma´oz, M., Middle eastern Minorities, p. 63), Taheri, A. mentions 20.000 killed (Taheri, A., American Foreign Policy Interests, 2003, Iraq, the failure of an Arab model, NC AFP); Waywell estimates the number about 20.000 (Waywell, T., a failure to modernize, the origins of 20th century Islamic fundamentalism).

[xl] the number of inhabitants is taken from Abd-Allah, U.F., The Islamic Struggle in Syria, p.192 and from a report of the Syrian Human Rights Committee, The Massacres of Hama: Law Enforcement Requires Accountability, 1.2.2005. Friedman mentions only inhabitants (Friedman, T., From Beirut to Jerusalem, p. 76)

[xli] see: Friedman, T.L., Hama Rules, 21.9.2001, New York Times editorial; see also: Friedman,T., From Beirut to Jerusalem, p. 78;

[xlii] Seale,P., Asad, p.334

[xliii] Fisk, R., Pity the Nations, pp. 185/186

[xliv] see: Seale,P., Asad, p. 333

[xlv] Lawson, F.H., Social Bases for the Hamah Revolt, MERIP Reports No. 11, Syria´s Troubles, 11/12 1982, pp. 24-28, p. 28; referring to the articles:” Des combats entre les frerres musulmans et les forces de l`ordre”, Le Monde, 12.2.1982 and David Ignatius´story on the revolt in the Wall Street Journal, 6.5.1982

[xlvi] Abd-Allah, Dr. U.F., The Islamic Struggle in Syria, p. 193

[xlvii] see: Kordt, W., Der Schock von Hama, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 7.4.1982

[xlviii] see: Rhein Zeitung, Syrische Brigade rebelliert mit, 16.2.1982

[xlix] Seale,P., Asad, p. 334

[l] Ma´oz, M., Middle Eastern Minorities, p. 63

[li] Friedman, T.L., Hama Rules, 21.9.2001, New York Times editorial

[lii] Lucas, I,, The paradox of Syria, p.7

[liii] Urquhard,B., cited in Lucas, I,, The paradox of Syria, p.7

[liv] Ma´oz,M., Middle Eastern Minorities, p. 63

[lv] Seale,P., Asad, p. 338

[lvi] see: Abd-Allah, U.F., The Islamic Struggle in Syria, pp. 100-101; Isam or: Islam al Attar was not exiled directly to Germany but first allowed to make a pilgrimate to Mecca after which he was not allowed to return and finally went to Aachen, West Germany. There he became the leader and founder of the Islamic Center Aachen.

[lvii] see: Library of the Congress Studies, Syria, the Asad Era

[lviii] see: Wendell, Ch. (transl.), Five Tracts of Hassan al Banna, 1978;see also: Abd-Allah, U.F., The Islamic Struggle in Syria, Appendix (Manifesto of the Islamic Revolution in Syria)

[lix] Abd-Allah, The Islamic Struggle in Syria, p. 44

[lx] see:

[lxi] see: Friedman, T., From Beirut to Jerusalem, p. 76

Excerpt out of 46 pages


The Hama Massacre – reasons, supporters of the rebellion, consequences
Ben Gurion University  (Middle East Sciences)
Israel and Arabs - between war and peace
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
714 KB
This paper analyses the backgrounds and consequences of the Hama massacre, an uprising of mainly Muslim rebels in Syria in 1982, which was brutally crashed down by Syrian government forces. It examines the interests of the different national, regional and international groups supporting the revolt, such as Islamic fundamentalists,other Arab states and anti-Soviet interests of the West in the Middle East.A special emphasis is put on the role of West Germany and the Syrian Brotherhood in Germany.
Hama, Massacre, Israel, Arabs
Quote paper
Dipl. Paed. Kathrin Nina Wiedl (Author), 2006, The Hama Massacre – reasons, supporters of the rebellion, consequences, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: The Hama Massacre – reasons, supporters of the rebellion, consequences

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free