Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Poet Mohja Kahf speaks to Marvin X and others on the Syrian Revolution

Syria: It's Still a Revolution, My Friends

No matter what your position on the potential US strikes on Syria (I’m against), all I ask is, DON’T be a hater who denies the existence of the grassroots youth who began the Syrian revolution out of hope for real freedom and out of their rising expectation for real change, hope that had nearly died in the fifty-year police state that has ruled Syria. Tr
y to remember to have some compassion for a Syrian who might be in the vicinity, before you mouth off in the abstract on the issue; we face news every day of our friends and our relatives being killed and imprisoned. Take time to get to know about a few of them, the Syrian rev youth activists who started it all, in hundreds of towns across Syria, before you speak about Syria based on what happened in Iraq or Lebanon or Country X.

In SYRIA, this is a REVOLUTION (and yes I understand it meets the technical definition of a civil war, yes it does, AND, yet, still: This is a Revolution). In SYRIA, a Revolution has been happening, and the will to freedom that began it will not simply be erased; it is a bell that cannot be unrung in the hearts of young Syrians. It is a consciousness change. That is why Syria is not now and will not become, despite all the fuckedupness that has ensued inside the revolution, “like Iraq” (and by the way, I marched in the US against the Iraq War, and over the years have written and published pages of poems based on the unimaginable sufferings narrated to me by Iraqis).

In SYRIA, a broad spectrum of twentysomethings across every province were inspired by Bouazizi’s self-immolation, by 26-year-old Asma Mahfouz’ call to Tahrir, by the movement for Khaled Said, a young activist murdered by Egyptian police in 2010, NOT by some US president’s call for regime change as in Iraq. By the will to “live like human beings,” as one after another has told me when I have met them and asked for their stories. ASK for their stories, please. They will TELL you what motivated them to risk their lives as they did. Syria’s revolution youth hit the streets out of grievances they have EXPERIENCED, in their own bodies, in their own lives; this revolution was not begun by some Syrian version of Iraq’s Chelebi, nor by established oppositionists, but by geographically widespread rural and smalltown women and men of ALL sects, young people whom the CIA never even heard of, coming together in a new spirit. They are nobody’s proxies, no matter how much outside agendas want to make them somebody’s proxies.

And please, do not create a callous denial narrative that erases the masses of mainstream Syrians in this revolution, as if they don’t count, in favor of the Salafist extremists who are trying to take it over from its fringes as, thousands of miles away, you run screaming “Taliban! AlQaeda!” wringing your hands but not knowing in the slightest the measure of their (nasty) influence. Do not abandon those revolution youth—whether they are still in the civil resistance or have joined the secular, mainline armed resistance--who are now themselves beset by the Salafists even while still fending off the brutal regime. For example, I just fb chatted with a friend inside, one of the original protesters, who refuses to flee Syria, and incidentally he is Alawite, who has received death threats by name from the regime, and from the Nusra front on the other hand.

Above all, do not become so ethically ugly as to deny the massacres the regime has committed against civilians, or become a dictator-defender. Bashar is a Butcher; let’s establish that as a common fact between us, no matter your other views. I have spoken out against atrocities committed by the rebel sides; they ARE heinous, AND they in no way come close to the horrors committed by the regime, which vastly outguns all the rebel sides. So the “symmetry” thing, where you say “oh, they’re all about as bad as each other” is ethically reprehensible. If you don’t have time to educate yourself, at least refrain from that moral repulsiveness, please. Do not commit the inhumanity at this time of getting on a devastated Syrian’s last nerve, by denying our bloodied dead, or our desperate need for justice.

Here are some links for further some reading:

The Syrian Revolution, Then and Now:

International Crisis Group's analysis of the potential US strikes:

And please follow the Arabic or English pages of the Syrian Nonviolence Movement:

And of Kamishlo House:
(secular, nonsectarian, democracy activism)

Please write for the release of nonviolent Syrian prisoners of conscience HELD OVER A YEAR, many over two years, by cutting and pasting the text under each picture in this album, on a Revolution page that ALSO reports prisoners held by extremist groups on the rebel side:

1 comment:

  1. Mohja is correct about how the revolution started, and i agree with her it is still a revolution, not just an "uprising," and those who led it risked their lives knowingly, with the best of intentions and actions, and it is a shame that something wasn't done sooner to bring about real reforms in syria (but no one put pressure on assad to do this, neither the west nor russia, nor much at the UN). i know assad is cruel and as mohja says, he's known as a "butcher."

    unfortunately, the situation became more complicated when the jihadists and salafists from outside of syria, and some from inside, became involved with their cash, their weapons and their mercenary directors from outside syria. at this point, i know there is a struggle between the honest, real syrian revolutionaries, whom i support, and those who are mercenaries and the salafists who wear the mask of Islam, but who are not following the Qur'an, but are killers and terrorists themselves, as much as assad may be terrorizing people in syria, and driving people into refugee situations. it appears as if the money from the gulf is driving the mercenaries and those salafists who are terrorizing syrians of all sorts, non salafists, xians, jews and shi'a, as well as sunni's who are not wahabis. thus, the situation is complex beyond what any of us here can fully understand or know, but i feel mohja has a better supply of information than most of us, even if we have others on the ground telling us of what they see going on, because she and others she knows of are involved more than we; thus, her words are to be read with respect.

    my fear,as a muslim american whose father came form syria, is that the neo cons & zionists and some in other countries, have their own agendas that they are pushing to split syria so that it will never be a whole country again, just as the french did after WWI, by splitting lebanon off form syria to keep it more landbound.

    in all cases, as mohja and marvin both said, all the people of syria are suffering, as those of us who love syria and its people are sympathetially suffering on their behalf, and are afraid that an american attack on syria, based on false premises, or even true premises about the poison gas (but we don't want to see a gw bush vs blix on iraq redux),will cause more destruction to the syrian people than help, because our american "smart missiles" and "smart bombs" aren't that accurate, and thus, thousands of syrian civilians could be killed or maimed.

    at this time there is no good solution that will satisfy everyone, but we pray that however it works out, it is best for syria, but america has its own interests as does israel, and they have little to do with what is good for syria; instead it has to do with the grand american scheme of splitting the middle east up so badly that all the resources, the gas and oil in the mediterranean, the gas field under syria, the water in lebanon and the hashish fields and agriculture of the south of lebanon will be given over to israel by israeli force supported by american cash, weapons and persuasive power militarily and at the UN by bribery and threat.

    may Allah intervene on behalf of the righteous,l
    prof. sam hamod, ph.d
    princeton, nj; usa