A Perspective on Syria

 

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I am writing this as Aleppo is being flattened by murderous who will never care what name or description we call them because they are too powerful to care, and we are too weak to own more than words. I am in the shadow, in pain, broken and disappointed, and most importantly: Disillusioned. The cause of freedom and dignity we set out for was just and long-overdrew. The free world will stand by our side, so we thought. But the free world is not as free as we liked to think. Pardon our naivety, decades in isolation and organized education and propaganda framed our beliefs.

Back in Syria, I used to wonder how are we still doing this life that is so undignified and instructed in a dogmatic way. Our patriotism, our religions, our way of life, our leaders, our state, our parents, our ruthless competition with each other, our corruption, our nepotism, all this was adapted to and sometimes praised, mainly by the regime’s supporters. An entire life with its full details was arranged around the abasement and degradation of the human spirit, to break any will left in the spirit. We secretly dreamt of other ways to live. Even our intellectuals who wanted to make a slight crack in the system failed over and over. All this because of the extreme petrified state of a brutal regime which controlled Syria, and because we were tricked by the appearances and never dared to question literally everything, and because our intellectuals were never inclusive and too self-absorbed. After decades of despotism in Syria, after the death of Assad senior, an entire country was inherited. The new regime was costumed just in the right way, keeping a fascist grip over the economic, political and social spheres. Now, the antagonisms created and curated by the Syrian regime worked in the most needed time. And the merciless attacks on civilians serves the ultimate goal: Exclude people from the public participation and push them back to the dwelling of mere existence using all needed gruesome means. To turn people into shadows with no weight, hopeless and helpless.

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Since the uprising started in Syria, Syrians showed epic courage in defiance and standing up for what they believed in. It was a time of irresistible probability of change. Many activists were arrested, tortured and killed. Innocent civilians are bombarded every day with different kinds of weapons, millions displaced and are trying to find a safe refuge, many joined or were forced to go to the frontlines to fight their brothers and sisters, and all of us descended into shadows, dead and living. The world is flagrantly silence as the wheels of hell were lit and spin. As activists and believers in people’s right in owning their self-determination, we thought we were living in a logical world, but our definition of what is logic was wrong. We projected our own utopian perceptions on the nature of our current affairs, we failed to analyze it as it is: cold, ruthless, practical and compromising. How could we know better! Domesticated and fed the fallacies of our fathers and gods, besieged in our narrow box, kept lost in the labyrinth of determinism, and led by our engineered ego.

I confess that I was dogmatic like many others. I confess that I was led astray by selling my soul to elitism. I thought that the battle was tangible, was obvious and clear. It wasn’t. The moment I focused on what I saw, the hidden creeped under and pulled my legs. Now I seek refuge far away from a country and people I once called home and clan, waging my personal internal battles, seeking redemption, agonised by my moral ordeal of being saved as others are killed and starved and tortured and turned into void shells and refugees. The bottom line is, we don’t own ourselves now, we were owned, this is what crept unseen underneath us.

When we wanted change, we used the same slogans of the Syrian regime that were inherited from the colonial era. We didn’t invent anything new, nationalism, patriotism, borders, religion, women rights and diversity. From our angle, we kept on repeating what we were fed all these years on our harmony and diversity, but we were so good at lying at ourselves. It took one blow to shatter these empty words we held close but not engraved deeply. And when we screamed, we didn’t think that our echo can go either way, we were blinded by our good intentions before realizing that a flawed ambition is always subjected to a devastating setback. The criminal lunatics multiplied, we used to have one, Syrian regime and its Mukhabarat, now we have ISIS and other criminal lunatics. Brutes will mushroom to fill the void of definitions because we failed to form our own. Now how many enemies we must fight? We the barefoot, the mute, the displaced, the hollow words, the same repetitions. How will we fight the merciless thousands of years of certainty?  Many don’t even believe in revising their beliefs, and those on the other side of anti-faith are as worse in their certainty.

How did we say we will bring change when the concept of authority is worshiped? When we are infested by the same disease that is overtaking the world, fame and likes, being the one, waiting for the one, fighting for the one. There is no such thing as “the one.” Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that Syrians manifested unprecedented courage and lessons must be taken from their heroic actions. I will never forget the creative protests, the numerous songs, art, campaigns and altruistic actions; I will never forget the scene of Syrian refugees determinately walking through European borders marching toward what is rightfully theirs as humans, they are the true holders of the principles in which the European union was formed upon. Yet, they were set as targets of fear and hatred. How couldn’t the world see what this meant? How couldn’t we see.

An activist was asking where are the activists who used to campaign for Syria and why they are silent as a massacre taking place in Aleppo. Well my friends, not all activists were lucky or were willing to be financed or sponsored by a party or another. I fear that we made a lot of noise that the world became deaf, and at this level the only ones who can hear us are only us. Personally, I found myself unable to watch horrible massacres anymore, I developed a hypersensitivity of death and blood scenes that I fall into disturbed state when my eye catch a glimpse of what my friends or colleagues are posting online.

One thing I learned, media is a tool must be used with extreme caution, or you will risk turning into another cat video, another unfortunate happening that diminishes your value and humiliates your humanity. The only thing that keeps my head above water is people who are trying to live a normal life inside and outside Syria, nothing makes me happier than seeing someone creating, inventing, pursuing, looking after, a human, creature, land, or a thought. I say we live fiercely.

One friend wrote on his Facebook page that the destruction of Aleppo makes it look more like the face of the world now. I agree. It is sad to see a world trying to roll back into the mud of stereotypes and fear. We are all bound together. A slaughter was allowed to take place; criminals cannot be stopped because there are interests involved. Isn’t this terrifying? When might overruns human decency and dignity? Impunity is an ugly word. Impunity is prevailing in our world.

As Syrians, I believe we need to stir deeper and excavate the foundations beneath slogans and good intentions. A task that we, and only we، need to do. On my part, I am starting all over again, a trip to the past must be taken, a project for definitions and seeing ourselves in the new light.

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Why Did You Leave Me?

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The Children of Aleppo

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The Essence Of The World A Flower


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The Little Prince 

Syrian child Omran Dankish was saved from under the rubble after a Syrian Russian airstrike destroyed his home.

Sadly, Omran’s older brother Ali died in the hospital that day. 

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Dear Child: They Will Never Let You Hold Your Flag

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A while ago, I was watching an interview with Syrian teenager Yusra Mardini talking about her love of swimming and how she was accepted in a special swimming school in Germany, and her perilous journey crossing the Mediterranean. I was proud, I had a glimpse of optimism that some youths escaped the ugly war are able to present a bright future.

One sentence she said made me smile in irony; she said: I was sad because I couldn’t lift up my country’s flag.

Of course Yusra is too young to remember what happened to the list of talented athletes in Syria, the talented ones who would be able to have a bright promising future, and all was taken away from them either before 2011 or after.

Long time ago, I came to aware the fact that anyone in Syria who belongs to a lower class, or have a lower position at work, anyone poor and belong to a simple family, especially when that person is a woman, one is meant to be jostled by everyone else above his/her social status.

We were driven to believe that this lack of social empathy is in the nature of Syrians. I know better now, that such act to break any creative spirit is a character structured into society by the fascist state. Creativity and talent has no place in the Syrian society because those who show them are prone to deviate from the uniform of society. In Syria, anyone in the spotlight must be recruited and used.

An athlete like Yusra will never find the coach and training she needs in case she was in Syria. As a matter of fact, she must pay for reaching excellence one way or another, or be protected by someone “of a heavy weight,” as we say in Syria in reference to someone can reach deep in the interior structure of the regime. Going international from Syria is a very risky business, the image of the totalitarian regime is important, and the image any Syrian should represents must be in concord with what the regime wants to represent.

Many Syrians didn’t have the means or opportunities to thrive. They were hindered from even pursuing a way upward, from seeking any way to chase a shadow of a dream. Many might not have the aid they need to compete on international level, but they were not allowed to try without a full control.

As a woman, Yusra might not be able to compete as a swimmer. In Germany she is protected from any certain images she might feel ought to show. She is protected from society’s prejudice against women in swimming suits. I read and heard many pathetic comments about what she is wearing, and possibly she will not be protected by the Syrian regime, unless the regime wants to use this issue for its interests. In Germany she is offered training, instructions and support. Things that she would be probably denied from having in Syria. The young swimmer deserved all help, she is talented and smart, and she found them in Germany.

In case Yusra remained in the pre-2011 Syria, the Syria that was in negative peace and emergency laws for more than 40 years, then it is unlikely that she would be able to carry her flag. In case she wanted to hold up a representation of her, then the Olympics flame could be the best representation of her spirit and strength.

Some people gossiped that her family supports Assad regime. The smart girl remained neutral and innocent, she did not contaminate her waters with taking sides and with political views, and she is too young to carry such burden at the time many athletes were killed, arrested, took sides and carried weapons and driven away from their dreams. Yusra and another Syrian swimmer Rami Anis, for the first time in their lives and in many Syrians lives, are going somewhere. Hope is a necessity in refugees lives so they can open up and give their best wherever they live.

So dear Yusra, I doubt that you would be able to hold your country’s flag without losing your freedom to be simply a devoted athlete. Unless you know a high rank officer in secret police or army, chances are you might not be able to get a seat in an airplane to Rio.

In a final note, I respected the formation of team refugees, I just hated the name and would like to call them: Earth Team. I felt a bitterness when the refugees talked about how they wanted to be seen as humans, and that they are just like the rest of the world! Did anyone have any doubt that they are?

 

How borders and single identities are absurd!

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Kurdish Women Fighters Comforting Freed Manbij From ISIS

 

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The city of Manbij, located north Syria near the Euphrates river, was freed by Kurdish forces from ISIS. After the liberation of the city, pictures emerged of Kurdish women fighters among the Kurdish forces, helping and comforting the citizens of Minbij who celebrated their liberation by practicing freedoms they were banned from under the threat of ISIS vile sword.

The Kurdish women fighters always make me feel proud to be a Kurdish woman.

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Woman from Manbij celebrating her freedom by lifting her Niqab and smoking a cigarette.

 

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Photo of The Day

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A Glimpse of Smuggled Joy to Syrian Children in Aleppo

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Photo Credit: Rami Adham. The Telegraph.

He might be seen carrying a huge black bag filled with unknown stuff and crossing the borders, seems suspicious maybe! Joy and smiles is smuggled inside the bag, teddy bears and unicorns.

Rami Adham, a Finnish-Syrian man makes a trip every two months from Finland to Syria, carrying toys to the besieged Syrian children in Aleppo. But even toys are not easy to smuggle, he said that in June 2016, he walked 8 miles carrying a bag of toys through the Syrian borders because it was too dangerous to take a car as Syrian warplanes were targeting the surroundings of Aleppo. Sometimes the toys he brings for some children remain childless due to displacement or death.

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Rami Adham

Mr Rami said that he started bringing toys after one time when he was in a humanitarian mission to deliver food, he had a bag of toys and when he opened it children gathered around him laughing and shouting, he realised the effect of toys made on the lives of these children.

It is impressive how some people still carry the spark of joy despite all the carnage and ugliness sweeping Syria. A touch of humanity can imprint in these children’s memories and keep remains of hope in their souls.

 

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The Day When Hafez Assad Died

I still remember that summer day on the 6th of June 2000, when Hafez Assad died. It wasn’t that I couldn’t believe it, or I am chocked or I was expecting anything in specific. I didn’t expect that anything would change. I just sat in front of the TV watching the people fainting from sadness and performing bad crying scenes. But who can blame them, maybe I would burst in hysterical crying act and throw myself on the ground and faint before cameras, either dignity through hypocrisy or humiliation through torture.

The only thing I remember is a deep sense of amusement. Was it decent to feel amused when a nation handed over from father to sun under the claim of “legitimacy!” was it appropriate to feel amused watching an expected charade unfolding in the space of our lives? But it wasn’t all that.

I was amused because “forever” proved to be not valid. In schools and streets and offices and army, everywhere we heard and sang the cheer: “Forever, forever, oh Hafez Al Assad.” Death is sarcastic when it comes to totalitarian fascist “Fathers” of some nations.

I am writing this after I watched a short movie by Abou Naddara group entitled: The King Never Dies. Many people didn’t believe that Hafez Assad could die, we repeated the forever slogan till it became part of life’s facts.

He died, so will other kings, like ordinary people, they die.

الرئيس لا يموت The King Never Dies from abou naddara on Vimeo.

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