Thoughts On The Ordeal Of Syrian Activists

Few days ago, one well known Syrian activist wrote: “It became impossible hard to get a fund to establish a new civil group.” The funding is probably going to military groups despite the calls of civil society in Syria for more support and funding. Many projects of civil society started in the past 4 years, few survived, and the most effective were the small local groups.

When the Syrian uprising started in 2011, the few traditional activists who dared to oppose the situation in Syria during Assad rule joined the new activists who dared to go to beyond words and opinions by organizing protests and revolutionary activities. Many were new to the experience of activism and civil society as such notions were prohibited by Assad regime. Each activist worked according to his/her experience and capabilities. At first it was glorious and unbelievable. Some activists declared their real identities and many of them became well known, others preferred to take cover under anonymity, both stands were understood, but all paid a hefty price for this. Many activists lived inside Syria were either killed, imprisoned, kidnapped, or displaced. Their families also suffered with them as family members were taken hostage and tortured till the wanted activist surrenders, but no one will be freed. While those outside (like me) risked their right of returning into Syria, and the lives of their families and friends. International Organizations hesitated to support these activists in the first year of revolution because they didn’t understand that no possibility of civil work was happening in Syria before, Syrians didn’t know how to write proposals and raise funds and advocate, they learned all this in the hard way.

In the beginning, there was a surge of revolutionary energy among us, inside and outside, created a chain of people working together for change. But after 4 years, maybe more years to come, violence by Syrian regime and the resulted extremist groups chased away whoever still work for justice, equality and freedom. Syrian activists became chased, broken, forgotten and away from everything they love. Many lost their future, dropped out of their universities and schools, lost their homes, lost their jobs and exploited by media. Many of them lost their balance because of the fame, some went through depression, some were turned into strangers in different countries, and some still have the heart and soul to work through the grim reality they never expected to occur.

Breaking the civil activists led to breaking a great possibility of change into a better Syria. Assad regime and its allies were keen to do this. Still, it is not fair to exclude entire groups of people were and still active in coping with the apocalyptic life inside and outside Syria.  To live in such situation became an act of activism and resistance. Every Syrian was forced to turn into an activist in way or another as support is withering and attention in the Syrian genocide is fading. As if this is some entertaining media event that lasted for so long and it is getting low views nowadays, this is how we feel our cause is treated like.

Nonetheless, as I said: Our cause, which means our responsibility. Many people are still resisting until Syria is free from lies and tyranny, there are new humans brewing under the ordeal.

It is painful but we still have hope, hope that we cannot go on living and working without it.

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Some Thoughts In Free Fall Writing

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There are times when I think about why a lot, especially when it comes to my position in this world and the nature of the unique ambience that flows around me. Though I don’t ask a question like: Why I am here? Why me? such questions are absurd because the elements gathered and I was. But I ask: since this idiosyncratic existence was bestowed upon me, then why I was so average and ordinary? Weren’t existence would award me my deepest desires since I was chosen for this time-place presence?

Sometimes I think that I get all this wrong, I understand it in the wrong way. I was not chosen, I am a daughter of chance and because I consider myself of being chosen and being unique, I find it painful to live the way I am. The average and the ordinary is the unique maybe, and what makes us unique is the courage we have to go through life hoping to catch the tip of light thread.

And so my yearnings rise and calm according to my inner sunshine and energy attractions. I become more happy when mercy fills my heart and I realize that I never had a lighthouse in my life to guide me through the dark sea inside of me toward home, cause the elements of nature made me one, I am supposed to light the way for others.

There is no use of grieving about it, either embrace it or lose the gift.

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Hijab Or No Hijab: Identity & Free Will

In the past couple of weeks, there was a call to take off Hijab in Egypt. This call was faced by a ferocious campaign by the pro-Hijab community in MENA. Though I don’t wear Hijab myself, but I did not support the call for two reasons: I am a person who fully support women’s control over their bodies and their choices; and second, the call was made by a man, which is somewhat fine, but I believe in the matter of women’s bodies women should discuss this, mainly in our region.

When the uprising started in Arab countries 2011, there was a refreshing sentiment of women regaining themselves, like a young lady called Dana, who sent a picture of her without Hijab and a note explaining that she is with Women’s uprising in the Arab World because for 20 years air did not touch her hair. After five years, women lost themselves again and returned to hide under the glass ceiling.

Dana's Uprising

Dana’s Uprising

Personally, I went through an ordeal with this issue in my life. My family, which is reserve like many families in Middle East, wanted me to put on Hijab, and I always hated it no matter what style I chose to wear: French esharb, an Egyptian helmet, full of floral prints and shiny colors, fixing it with colored pins or nice brooches, or following latest Hijab fashion trends, I didn’t care, I just felt choking every time I wore it, and my family felt embarrassed every time I didn’t follow the dress code rules as a member of a traditional society. I have to say that by the end I won, I took it off eventually, but this came with a cost: society resentment and avoiding the scrutiny of my family. For me, refusing to wear this piece of cloth was an ultimate action against society’s attempts to control my body and thought.

I understand that in some strict societies and areas, women just can’t go out without it. In some countries, there are laws regarding women’s dress code. However, many communities in MENA consider women wearing Hijab are more virtuous than those who don’t, though this don’t prevent men and boys from sexually harassing women wearing Hijab in the street. Calling for laws for protecting women’s rights is more important than calling women to defy society on their own responsibility, how can we call average women in traditional societies to revolt against their suppressors and restrictions when laws are actually against them. In some countries like Syria before 2011, the killer in an honor crime will walk free after spending one year in prison after finishing the life of his sister, wife, or daughter. In Egypt, Hijab didn’t prevent police and authorities to carry out virginity checks for a number of women activists. Humiliating the body is one way to break women’s, and men’s, souls. Under all these violations of women’s dignities, if Hijab can make women feel somewhat secure and can preserve some sense of dignity (even if it was a delusion because the society itself is oppressed), then let it be Hijab for her.

Muslim women in Hijab do not live differently than women without it. They tattoo their eyebrows (though tattooing is haram in Islam), many of them do plastic surgeries, their outfits are the same of women without Hijab except for the head scarf and mantu or abaya, have the same aspirations, dreams, live under the same laws. It is nonsense to make women the carrier of virtue while men can enjoy some mistakes and be forgiven, and they must show it by wearing Hijab. The tradition of Hijab also represents the class that women belongs to and their religious backgrounds. Women farmers in rural areas wear Hijab differently from women employees in the city, and rich women wear Hijab differently from the poor. In Syria, a religious group called Al-Qubaysiat, were led and instructed by Damascene Sunni bourgeois women, and we used to identify them by their method of wearing Hijab. Hijab is also different from one Muslim country to another, women in Mauritania wear different Hijab (Which I have to say it is lovely) than women in Pakistan or Iran. Hijab represents an identity. Mothers in our region are imagined with a light white hijab, even women from other religions, many women wear Hijab even those who do not wear it usually in funerals as a sign of respect to the deceased.

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Women who choose to wear Hijab should be free to do so with no questions of whatsoever, as long as this comes from a genuine decision. There is a difference between Muslim women living inside reserved societies in MENA and Muslim women living in USA for example. A while ago I saw a video about Muslim women in Hijab doing hip stuff like skating in high heels and modeling, the message was that Muslim women wearing Hijab are not different from the society they live in, in this case, Western society. Again, Hijab here is a representation of an identity, the question is: how authentic? I agree with an opinion saying that this is insecure and somewhat deluding, as the majority of Muslim women (especially in MENA) are not allowed to do hip stuff, and Hijab does not come alone, it brings with it an entire set of beliefs and pre-designed ideas. If a woman chose to represent a certain identity by wearing Hijab, then she is free as long as she wasn’t convinced by society that this will make her more respected and virtuous; moreover there is a huge propaganda in the region regarding wearing Hijab that will make a woman righteous, good and more acceptable and fit in our society that is under severe pressure to be mold as one dimensional. Why women must carry the burden of identity representation in what is related to dress code more than men?

Every human must have the free will to choose and establish her/his own identity, regardless external propaganda and factors.

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No Exit From Internal Frost

blue-girl-portrait-wax

Cold wax oil painting portrait of a girl Copyright Christine Montague 2010. 6″ x 6″ oil & cold wax medium on a wood panel

It is so cold in here. Inside glass sparkling skyscrapers, inside fancy cars, inside bee hives, inside what is supposed to be warm homes, and inside people.

The cold crawls under my thin skin, it is nippling my knees and cracking the joints of my fingers. This cold is lashing me with dreariness and anxiety, it takes parts of my flesh everyday as I shiver, it is turning my heart into an ice castle where my nerves are just frozen pipes. There is a cruel solitude in this internal frost, there is a hopeless aspiration for the sun outside the glass, always shining but never warm and kind, forever mocking the chill inside.

This cold always howling and whistling in a steep monotonous voice that shatters and distorts my inner unique voice. It seeks to turn me into another print, and I struggle everyday to find my voice in the vast prairies inside, I have a sour swollen throat and a saggy lungs as I gulp down all the air I need, more than I can take just to have the sense of  breathing.

It is so cold inside of me, and I am exploited and wasted.

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رحلة من رحلات السندباد: الأحرار لا يعيشون في الجنة

Hummingbird:

قصتي على مدونتي الجديدة

Originally posted on Counterpoise:

painting-surreal-by-yaro42

بعد عشرة أيام عاصفة، لم تدع الأنواء خلالها ريحا إلا وزوبعتها، و ظهر البحر وكأنه يغلي من غزارة المطر، وكانت الأمواج الشقية تحمل سفينة السندباد عاموديا، استحال العالم الغاضب إلى عالم مسالم تلاعب الغيوم في سمواته بعضها بعضا، وتربت فيه الرياح على خدود البحارة معيدة إليهم ذكريات لمسات شفاه زوجاتهم وعشيقاتهم. النهار ساطع لكن لا وجود للشمس، هناك غيوم لكن لانجوم تلوح في أفق السماء. وقف السندباد في مقدمة السفينة، عيناه مغلقتان وخياله يلهو مع الغيوم البيض، وبينما هو يناجي نفسه الساكنه، حمل له النسيم صوتا رائقا ينادي إسمه. فتح عينيه ورأى اليابسه قبل أن يصرخ أحد البحارة: اليابسة. هز صوته وعي السندباد.

السندباد: اتجهوا نحو تلك الجزيرة علنا نجد المزيد من المؤونه، أو من يمكنه أن يرشدنا نحو بيوتنا.

البحارة: هيلا هيا.

أدار أحد البحارة الدفة نحو بقعة الأرض البيضاء المتلألئة، كانت من بعيد تلمع كالؤلؤ وكلما اقتربت السفينه منها بدأت تظهر تفاصيلها العجيبة. في البداية، شاهدوا أجمة بيضاء من…

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Lessons From The Past And The Present

The memory of the Lebanese Civil War (which lasted 15 years and 7 months) just passed by few days ago. As we recollect the horrors of that time, we also recollect the contribution of regional and international parties in this mayhem. Seeing the Syrian situation now, one can largely see the resemblance between that long war in Lebanon, and the constant mutilation of my country by regional and international parties to turn it into a similar atrocity. Till today, Lebanon lived in a state of negative peace and did not recover.

One thing is different, our globalized age made it possible for countries I never heard of before to speak about the Syrian affairs, widening the pool of interfering parties by supporting different groups, even ISIS. It also became easier to mobilize people on religious bases.

We know the lessons, yet we never learn. The sad matter is that when one realizes after all death, destruction, financial and psychological drainage which Syrians suffered, it was never about us or our dignity, it was always the bargains made between different parties. Like the nuclear deal with Iran, I was looking forward to it with a bitter relief as it might lead to stopping the support to Assad regime and withdraw Iranians militias and boys, which will lead to the defeat of ISIS as its twin villain (Assad regime) will be finished. Looking back into the modern history of Syria under the rule of Assad family one can clearly see that Assad regime was always given a free hand in committing all massacres it wanted as long as it keeps people under control. I hold those who forced themselves on us as “International Community” the responsibility for all massacres committed by Assad regime starting from the Lebanese Civil War, to Hama genocide and reaching to the current mass killings.

We need to regain our destiny, our right to decide what we are. Do we remember this one article in Human Rights Charter? The right of self-determination? I feel that this article is the least called for. No peace will come to Middle East as long as solutions for “peace” are manipulated and imposed on the people and not made by the people, and the claim that these societies cannot achieve peace in democratic ways is just another orientalist pretext for empowering dictators so they can control and sedate.

I also believe that as part of a globalized world, I have the right to choose the international community that is fair and treats all humans on earth on equal and just grounds.

In an article published on The Republic website for Syrian Revolution’s Studies, Syrian writer Mohammed Al Attar says (and I entirely agree with him):”There is another confrontation must be faced by the Syrians who believe in the necessity of the revolution. It is the narrations of the revolution against the narrations of the anti-revolution. To face the narrations that curtails us to just war as a summary for our entire story. This is a battle of writing, documentation and blogging to protect our memory. To remind us of the just cause of freedom in Syria. It is too early to announce our defeat in this fight, if we do that then this will be a grand treason for those who left us shouting for freedom, and for the revolution.”

Tel al-Zaatar Massacre during Lebanese Civil War perpetrated by Assad forces and Maronites militia

Tel al-Zaatar Massacre during Lebanese Civil War perpetrated by Assad forces and Maronites militia 1976

Hama Massacre committed by Syrian regime forces 1982

Hama Massacre committed by Syrian regime forces 1982

Al Fadl Massacre by Syrian forces 2013. More than 500 civilians killed.

Al Fadl Massacre by Syrian forces 2013. More than 500 civilians killed.

The massacre of Queiq River in Aleppo. More than 200 bodies were tortured to death by Syrian regime security forces then dumped in the river to be drifted to the other part of the city where they were pulled out by civilians.

The massacre of Queiq River in Aleppo. More than 200 bodies were tortured to death by Syrian regime security forces then dumped in the river to be drifted to the other part of the city where they were pulled out by civilians- 2013.

Child tortured to death, his pictured emerged with other hundreds of pictures leaked by defected Assad regime security officer 2014. All photos show the bodies with numbers on their foreheads.

Child tortured to death, his pictured emerged with other hundreds of pictures leaked by defected Assad regime security officer 2014. All photos show the bodies with numbers on their foreheads.

I

My campaign

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Photo Of A Day: The Source Of Terrorism

Photo of a Day

Tyranny is the source of terrorism.

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Random Thoughts On Words and Music

Hummingbird:

My new blog..

Originally posted on Counterpoise:

befunky_null_9

When I was reading Kafka On The Shore novel, I came across a piece of music by my beloved Japanese group Mono, it was called: A Dream Odyssey, and I thought that if the novel was a tone, then Dream Odyssey got to be it.

I believe that everything has its own smell even the abstract, as I believe that everything has its own music, especially words. The Cloud Atlas Sextet played in my head every time I opened the novel to continue reading it. When I read Samarqand by Amin Maalouf, I heard Thafer Youssef singing, and recently when I read Azazeel by Youssef Zeidan I felt its best tone was silence of the monks, silence is also music. When I read for feminist writers I like to listen to Open by Rhey, or Lebanese pop singer singer Tania Saleh.

There is something in the voice of iconic Arab…

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Solidarity with Yarmouk, crushed from all sides …

Originally posted on Syria Freedom Forever - سوريا الحرية للأبد:

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Yarmouk, Your wounds are our wounds brother, Aleppo

Yarmouk camp in Damascus is now under the quasi total control, according to the latest news, of the forces of the Islamic State (IS), after several weeks of military operations to invade the camp, with the collaboration of Jabhat al Nusra (Al Qaeda’s branch in Syria) and the declaration of neutrality of the Islamist movement Ahrar Sham. Military forces, independent of the regime and reactionary fundamentalist forces, composed of Palestinian and Syrian fighters inside the camp did try to resist militarily against the onslaught of IS, but without success. Clashes between these forces have led to the death of many martyrs defending the camp, including Colonel Khaled Alhasan, known as Abu Oday, who defected of the Palestine Liberation Army, which is under the domination of Assad regime, and subsequently commanded the movement of the “Free Men of the Palestinian Liberation Army” in…

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A Thought For Me Today: Stop Screaming

Skrik_1893

The Scream by the Expressionist artist Edvard Munch

Since the start of year 2015, there was a voice constantly screaming inside me. This voice is only sedated during late hours at night when I am reading, afterwards it resumes screaming when I fell asleep. Every morning I wake up with a headache as the scream was pounding on my ear drums all night, from the inside.

As I can’t take this anymore, I am telling my soul to chill out in sub-zero degree and stop screaming, I know this metamorphosis is painful and difficult, but I am a strong Kurdish girl and I will be alright, one way or another.

Chill and concentrate.

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