Syrian rebel front unveils its vision for state

The Islamic Front vows to protect Syrian minorities, denies it will bring in ‘oppressive system’

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A newly formed rebel alliance said Tuesday it wants Syria to be an “Islamic state,” but insisted it would protect minorities and not create an “oppressive, authoritarian system,” Agence France-Presse reported.

Under the subheading “democracies and parliaments,” the Islamic Front said in its released covenant that a representative government “is based on the notion that the people have the right through institutions to [determine] legislation, whereas in Islam God is the sovereign.”

But it adds: “This does not mean that we want an oppressive, authoritarian system,” saying Syria should be ruled through a Shura, or Islamic consultative council.

The Islamic Front is considered to be Syria’s largest armed opposition grouping with tens of thousands of fighters battling to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

However, the alliance did not detail its vision after toppling Assad’s regime, maybe fearing that it would splinter its grouping which is made of seven key Islamist factions which announced joining hands on Friday.

The alliance went on to reject secularism and defined it as “dividing religion from life and society, and reducing it exclusively to rituals, customs and traditions.

“This is contradictory with Islam,” said the statement.

Some hardline Jihadists reject democracy outright, but moderate Islamists have long argued that democracy and religion are compatible so long as Islamic law is respected.

The newly formed alliance also described jihadists who have travelled to Syria to fight alongside the rebels - and who often espouse the most radical forms of Islam - as “brothers who came to help us,” saying “we must protect them.”

The grouping, which includes a Kurdish Islamic faction, also said it rejects “any project to partition” Syria.

The covenant adds that “the only way to bring about its objectives, in light of Assad’s force and oppressiveness and the world’s betrayal of the Syrian people’s just cause is through... military rebellion.”

In a related story, the main Western-backed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, pushed Tuesday for the Syrian government to establish humanitarian corridors to besieged opposition areas and release political prisoners.

The Coalition said it needed to see progress on those confidence-building measures before it will decide whether to attend the proposed international peace conference, Geneva II.

Meanwhile, the rebel Free Syrian Army has reiterated its rejection of participating in the Geneva peace talks.

(With AFP and AP)