Friday, March 16, 2012

Letter to a Syrian

All of my posts on Syria have been extremely critical of the Syrian regime, and deservedly so. In my opinion this criminal dictatorship has, within twelve short (or long) months, wiped out any kind of political credibility and legitimacy it might have slowly accumulated. There is simply nothing to justify the cold-blooded murder of demonstrators and the imprisonment and torture of thousands of Syrians. Having said that, I have said very little about the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, but I feel it necessary now, before saying anything else, to say something briefly about them. I don't trust them and I don't like them.

That doesn't mean I will do the same as some anti-imperialists and act as if the Brotherhood is as complicit in the killing in Syria as Assad is. The priority for all Syrians should be the removal of this incredibly stupid dictator and his band of thugs, first and foremost, rather than to sit back and wait for the right "type" of revolution. Having said that, supporting the Syrian revolution is not a binary choice of siding with the Muslim Brotherhood against Assad's fascist secularism. Taking a principled stand against brutality and murder, and for a dream of a better Syria, is a difficult one, but it is not impossible. If you are a Syrian then you should speak up - if you haven't done so already - and debate the best way you would like to govern your own country. Supporting the Syrian revolution does not mean you are supporting some foreign conspiracy against the country, or that you want to be invaded, it means you are fed up with being afraid to speak your own mind. For far too long, the fear of having your name "noted down" by some of Assad's secret police has meant that we have all opted for silence. Today that is no longer an option, and as the country hurtles down an abyss, it is more important than ever that each and every one of us starts to articulate our own position. 

I do not believe that the Syrian revolution has been "hijacked", at least not yet, and this is in spite of the ardent proclamations of some who would really like Syria's revolution to fit their own binary views. When more and more Syrians debate and scrutinise their own points of view, something far more powerful than any stale dogma or religious ideology can come into being. I know it is tempting to get swept away with one current or the other, but my advice to you who are confused about what is happening is to listen to what is being said and make up your own mind. If something does not make sense, then there must be a reason for that. If, after listening to all the reasons, it still seems like something is wrong with an argument, then you don't have to accept it. Don't just go along with it, or against it, based on your feelings to the person talking to you.

But then, I hear you ask, how can somebody derive the right position to hold out of all this mess? Well the answer to that is quite simple. It all depends on whether you feel you are lying to yourself when you accept the argument. If it is not something you can wholeheartedly and comfortably state with certainty, then something is wrong and you should check your premises. If somebody, in the name of stability, tells you that Assad must stay, and yet you know that people are being murdered and tortured by his security services, then as reasonable as the person assuring you of the regime might sound, that argument is flawed. If somebody tells you that Syria must free itself of Alawite rule and to do so it will be necessary to kill some Alawis in order that we all be free, then again, it must be clear to you as a reasonable person that this is not the kind of person you want to see ruling the country. 

This brings us to another key question, and that is what are you supposed to do when none of the arguments on the table are something you agree with? Well there is an answer for that too. If you find that something is missing from the discussion, then you must introduce it. You have discovered it, it is yours. That does not mean you are right, but by bringing your concerns to light, somebody will respond to you and you will all be forced to think about it and refine it. It might be dismissed, or criticised, but if it is the truth then it will stand, and if not then you will have learned that this argument is a dead end and you can move on. 

The days of staying quiet and hoping somebody else will take care of everything are over. Today, Syria is at a crossroads, and as violent and horrific as everything might appear, we must all remember that we allowed this to happen. We hoped the problem would go away, that things would get better on their own without anybody taking responsibility for their actions and of being afraid to speak up when we saw something wrong. Some of us, myself included, thought it was acceptable to ignore personal freedoms and dictatorship because there was a "big picture" and because we thought that once the external threat was over then everything would be just great. That was irresponsible.

Nobody has the right to beat us, to kill us or threaten us just because of who we are or what we say or believe in. If somebody tries to justify this for a greater good, then they are lying. We must all reject sectarianism and dictatorship equally, and we must speak up when somebody tries to drown out common sense through slogans and hatred. If we don't, then we will simply replace one dictator with another, and one form of oppression or another, condemning us to the same cycle of silence, oppression and violence.

1 comment:

Crazy Bear said...
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