Shortly after the two-year anniversary of the Syrian revolution, I conducted this interview over Skype with Mohamed Khairullah, the Democratic Mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, a Syrian-American deeply involved with humanitarian aid missions to Aleppo. The city has been devastated by heavy artillery, aerial bombing, and most recently Scud missile attacks by the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Just as the people of Aleppo remain steadfast in their determination to live free in a democratic Syria, so has Mayor Khairullah remained steadfast in coming to their aid as reported by NorthJersey.com:
Mohamed Khairullah woke up one night in December in Aleppo to feel the ground shaking as a bomb landed outside with a boom and a plume of smoke. The Syrian sky never quieted during his next three days in the embattled city.
“You’re always watching the sky above you and when it comes there’s not much of a warning,” he said. “But we had a purpose and a cause and we had to continue.”
Between his jobs as mayor of Prospect Park and as a high school administrator, Khairullah has rallied to help his native Syria, where, where rebels have been fighting for the past two years to overthrow the Assad regime, whose fight to stay in power has cast the country into war.
He raised $18,500 for a 12-day trip in December that he used to bring supplies to schools and hospitals in Syria and to a refugee camp in Turkey.
Khairullah is going back in April, in spite of the danger, and aims to raise $50,000 by Sunday to bring more food, clothing and fuel to Syrians. He is appealing to donors in large part through daily social media posts to Twitter and Facebook.
My interview with the mayor was about the urgent need for humanitarian assistance but also about the politics of the revolution. Anybody who watches the interview will understand the Syrian uprising is one of the most important revolutionary movements of our epoch and will be studied 100 years from now as it will have as much of an impact on the Middle East and North Africa as the French Revolution of 1789 had on Europe by lifting it out of feudalism and into a modern, democratic age. While neither Libya nor Syria were feudal, they were run by tyrannical family dynasties—something that simply does not deserve support in any form.
The mayor addresses all the key questions facing the Syrian people as well as Americans who remain undecided about a revolution that is attacked physically by Assad and the states that support his dictatorship and verbally in the U.S. by pundits who would rather talk about “jihadists” than the right of a people to be free from tyranny. Of particular interest is Mayor Khairullah’s report of the embryo of a new post-Assad society developing in Aleppo even as it is under attack.
I have donated $100 to the Aleppo relief campaign and strongly urge others to do so either by credit card or by Paypal (recipient is the Mayor at [email protected].) As much as I would like to see folks chip in $100 if they can afford it, surely everybody can afford $10 or $25.
For the price of a movie ticket, children in Aleppo can get hot meals for a week.
For the price of an entrée at a decent restaurant or a good bottle of wine, a field hospital can get fuel to continue operating for a month.
This is about as good a way as those of us living in the rich industrial countries can show solidarity with a people in struggle. The stakes in this fight are very high and we should do everything we can to help it succeed.
More coverage of the Syrian revolution from The North Star: