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As a preacher for years at the Anas Ben Malek Mosque in Daraya, Abdul-Akram Al-Sakka promoted freedom and peace without openly criticizing the Syrian government. Security forces arrested him on July 15, 2011, and his family still doesn’t know why.

“The security forces took my father from our house,” said Asma, Adbul-Akram’s daughter. “We don’t know who took him; all security forces look alike to me. Those who took my father did not have an arrest warrant and did not explain why they were arresting him. We have no idea what happened to my father since the day he was arrested.”  

Someone told the family he might be in Sednaya, but officials did not confirm the information. Another daughter visited almost every security branch in the area, but officials refused to answer her questions.

This is not Abdul-Akram’s first time in detention. When he failed to display the requisite sign of mourning, a Quran, at the mosque on the day then-President Hafez al-Assad died in 2000, security agents detained him for two months. Then, in 2003, Abdul-Akram served a nine-month sentence in Sednaya after a military field court convicted him of peacefully protesting corruption.

Abdul-Akram’s wife had a stroke a few weeks after he disappeared. “She is slightly better now,”  Asma said, “but refuses to leave Syria before my father is released.” Abdul-Akram’s ten children are trying to keep their mother busy and healthy while they wait to hear news of their father.

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