In 1976, the Islamist magazine Vesika announced Syria's occupation of Lebanon with the headline "The Don Quixotism of Assad the Alawite"; it described Hafez Al-Assad himself as one whose "Alawism
predominated over his Leftism." (28) In 1979, as clashes between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Assad government grew steadily fiercer, many Islamist newspapers and magazines began to feature news stories and opinion columns about Syria.
Alawites are also called Nusayris, in reference to Mohammed Ibn Nusayr, a pupil of Shiism's 11th and 12th imams whose exact birth and death dates are not known and who founded Alawism
. The French Mandate, which ruled Syria between 1918 and 1946, as well as Lebanon between 1918 and 1943, changed the name of the sect from Nusayris to Alawites to avoid mix-up with Nasara, a term given by many Muslims to Christians derived from the Arabic name of Nazareth, where Jesus Christ was born, according to the newspaper.
In terms of Alawism
, the Alawite population in Turkey is larger than the Alawite population in Syria.
Hafez converted from 'Alawism
to become president of Syria after his military coup d'etat against the civilian wing of the ruling Ba'th Party - his orientations are pro-Shi'ite.
Da'ai al-Islam Shahhal is believed to have incited armed Sunnis during their clashes with neighboring Alawites (Alawism
is a branch of Shiism) in Tripoli's poorest neighborhoods.
While Lebanon's refugee camps are believed to be hideouts for Lebanese, Palestinian and other suspected terrorists, Jabal Mohsen is home to many adherents of Alawism
. Alawites are a small offshoot of Shiite Islam, which dominates the Baathist government in neighboring Syria.