Looking Forward to a Free Syria

Syria will only know freedom if religious strife is brought to an end.

This Wednesday, June 5, 2013, file photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows Syrian soldiers loyal to President Bashar Assad in the town of Qusair, near the Lebanese border, in Homs province, Syria.
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Central to any new system must be a religious-freedom guarantee for all. Only when each individual Syrian, irrespective of religious sect, has equal standing under the law can Syria's shattered society ever come together again.

A recent report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, on which we serve, recommends ways to achieve these goals. We recommend that the United States and like-minded members of the "Friends of Syria" nations help pro-democratic groups provide security for likely targets of sectarian violence; aid our natural allies within the opposition and any future government in promoting human rights and religious freedom; and provide training and support to local councils, lawyers and judges on domestic laws and international standards for human rights and religious freedom.

[Read the U.S. News Debate: Should the Obama Administration Do More in Syria?]

Two years ago, Syrians marched in unity and peace against Assad's tyranny, speaking a common language of human rights and democratic reform. When this war ends, as it will one day, will these ideals be discarded and Syria consigned to a future of alternating repression and strife, or will these principles be the bedrock of a more stable system built around the unifying principles of freedom and equality under law? That is the question.

Katrina Lantos Swett serves as chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Robert P. George serves as a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

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