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Future of Syria “uncertain and worrisome” says college expert

October 8, 2012

MEDIA CONTACT: Hilary Dickinson at or 608-363-2849

Experts predict a violent winter in Syria−perhaps the bloodiest since the revolution began in 2011, and Catherine Bronson said the outcome of the conflict is grim.

The revolution, according to the Associated Colleges of the Midwest Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Beloit College, is comprised of diverse groups with disparate interests all vying for attention and power. Thus, even if they succeed in their common goal of toppling the regime and ousting President Bashar al-Assad, many predict that the country will continue to plunge further into sectarian war.

The Syrian conflict began in March 2011 when citizens took to the streets to protest the torture of students who wrote anti-government slogans against al-Assad and his Ba’ath party. The violence escalated, and by summer of 2012 the country had plunged into a massive civil war. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the total number of civilians and non-civilians killed has exceeded 31,000 and includes many women and children.  

Bronson said the “world community” has so far been reluctant to intervene because of the repercussions that could be felt around the globe, but she said citizens can do something to help.

According to Bronson, who sponsors an orphan, people can make donations to grassroot organizations such as SyrianOrphans.Org or Text 4 Syria, Text 4 Humanity.

“It’s a humanitarian crisis,” said Bronson who lived in Syria for three years and frequently returned for research. “The burden is on each enlightened citizen to really care beyond their own small, myopic view of the world because when we become small-minded and things like this go on it’s basically raping of the human condition and we’re all vested in that as fellow human beings.”

SOURCE: Catherine Bronson joined the Beloit College faculty in the fall of 2012 as an Associated Colleges of the Midwest Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in Arabic and Islamic Studies. She teaches first-year Arabic and a course in Islamic Studies. She earned her Ph.D. in Early Islamic Intellectual Thought from the University of Chicago where the topic of her dissertation was portrayals of Eve in the Qur’an. She taught Arabic and Islamic history and thought as well as courses in the humanities core at the University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Chicago. Bronson lived in Syria for three years and returned for the following five summers to learn additional Islamic sciences such as the reading of the Qur’an, Islamic jurisprudence and exegesis. She can serve as a media resource on topics related to her research and teaching interests.