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Video by Selim EL MEDDEB , Lucy FIELDER

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-09-04

Meeting FRANCE 24’s reporting team in Syria, the Speaker of the Syrian People’s Assembly explained that he had written to French lawmakers, urging them to reject military intervention in the name of secularism.

Attacking Syria would open the floodgates of Islamist terror and destroy the secularism of the Syrian state, the speaker of the Damascus parliament has written in an open letter to French lawmakers.

Underlining the threat to secularism -- which is a core value of mainstream French political parties -- Jihad Lahham told FRANCE 24: “Anyone who attacks Syria is essentially supporting terrorists and strengthening them. France cannot take part in such an aggression.”

The move comes as French lawmakers debate plans to support US-led intervention against the Damascus regime, which it accuses of using chemical weapons against its own people in three alleged attacks. 

Speaking from the heavily-guarded People’s Assembly, Lihham explained that he lost his own father in 1980 during the Muslim Brotherhood’s revolt against Hafez Al-Assad, the father of current Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“Syria is the last secular state in the Middle East,” he said. “Syria is fighting terrorism, not only now, but in the past we had the experience of fighting the Muslim Brotherhood, in the 70s.”

Syria, he said, was ready to defend itself and he warned of unintended consequences of any attack on his country.

“Battles start with something local, then they become regional and can become global,” he said. “They claim America wants to conduct limited strikes. American can start a war, but does it know how to end that war?"

Lahham has invited French MPs to come to Damascus and said they would be convinced that the Syrian government had nothing to do with the alleged chemical weapons attack of August 21.

A similar letter was sent to British lawmakers before they voted down a government proposal to support US-led military action against Damascus, which has been waging a two-year civil war against a rebel coalition.

Date created : 2013-09-04


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