Shami, Kassim and Sharafeddine during the stormy episode. YouTube
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A fiery episode of a popular talk show this week has generated a storm of controversy over explicit calls to collectively "punish" Syria's Alawites for their role in the country's civil war.Hosted by Syrian Druze personality Faisal Kassim, Al-Jazeera's Opposite Direction (Al-Ittijah al-Muakis) Tuesday night featured a debate between Abdel-Massih Shami, a Christian pro-regime figure, and Maher Sharafeddine, a Druze journalist active in opposition circles. But the show was more of a two-against-one diatribe against the Alawites, as Kassim and Sharafeddine resorted to vulgar rhetoric and sweeping generalizations as they argued that the Alawites bore a special responsibility for the violence and human rights violations widely blamed on the regime during the course of the 4-year-old war. Shami maintained the standard defense of the regime's army and intelligence services as being made up of members of all Syrian communities. Kassim defended himself by saying, disingenuously, that the episode focused on the future of the Alawites after the regime's recent loss of the town of Jisr al-Shughur in Idlib province.Kassim and Sharafeddine, meanwhile, have also remained in the news.The activist called it a case of Kassim trying to enhance his public standing among the overwhelmingly Sunni rebels.
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