My homeland : a place I never lived in, a place I have visited three times as child each time no more than 3 weeks. A place I am unable to visit as an adult due to my family's political past , which haunts us to this date even after the "Damascus spring". My homeland I learned since I was a child is like any household, on the exterior everyone seems happy and getting along but on the interior the grim reality is very different: everyone is miserable and the dysfunction is indescribable. Mrs Shaaban is the representation of the facade , the exterior of Syria , the "attractive" face of the "progressive", "secular", resistance loving, normalization hating Syrian regime.
Mrs Shaaban has what it seems a monthly article in the progressive "Counter Punch" newsletter one of the best of most progressive periodicals around. She writes about important subjects like the Arab renaissance and occupation and suffering of the oppressed and...and words of wisdom and profound statement and used up cliches and arguments that anyone familiar with Syria would laugh at due to their scale of hypocrisy and absurdity.
Today I found myself reading her latest piece titled "Three Faces and a Homeland", like most of her writing she knows that her audience is the western liberal white man , so she caters trying to play sounds he will appreciate and like. These sounds are intended as a propaganda vehicle in order to hide the interior of her homeland which is not very pleasant to look at all and show the world that Syria is indeed the last hope of Resistance and the resounding NO to the american empire in the Arab world.
She begins by talking about Um Kamel a very touching story indeed about a Palestinian women who was uprooted by sheer force and inhumanity by the Zionist forces while the world watches in silence. The Second face Mrs Shaaban mentions Rihab Taha the Iraqi scientist who according to Bouthaina had to choose between :"either to immigrate to the countries which destroyed their land or die in al-Qaeda blasts." Somehow she (the Syrian regime) seems to think that killings in Iraq are either Al-Qaeda based or occupation based. There is no mention of the role of the sectarian death squads sponsored by the Iraqi government in the role of the killing of the scientists or everyone who worked with the previous regime of Saddam. What she is trying to portray here is the image of the Syrian regime in sympathy with the Iraqi suffering while working at the same time with US in order to facilitates the occupation of Iraq by the US. Syria at the one hand condemns those who "destroy and occupy" Iraq and on the other it works with them. Syria has been playing this two face role since Assad took over in the early 1970s and getting away with it.
Mrs Shaaban then moves on to talk about those "demonstrate on a daily basis in Bal’in and Na’lin against the racist separation barrier and are beaten up, arrested and tortured." Poor Palestinians used again by the Syrian regime this time to show how evil the Zionist occupiers are. Never mind that in Syria people that try to demonstrate without getting a permit (oxymoron) are arrested , beaten up and tortured.
Later on she has the Chutzpah to talk about "freedom of worship" : "The West claims to be promoting and spreading freedom, including the freedom of worship, but keeps silent when it comes to defending the right of the Palestinians to worship." Who the hell is she to talk about freedom of worship ? In Syria to this date if you belong to the Muslim brotherhood you get EXECUTED without trial. If someone is found to be frequenting the mosque more than he should he disappears and get tortured until tens of thousands of dollars of bribes is dispensed to the pockets of the Syrian secret service before they are released unable to function normally due to the torture they suffered (personal example).
Just when you think her audacity can not get more vulgar she says "The second face is that of a person who sees nothing in the homeland except himself, his wealth and materialistic desires taking cover under superficial values." She then ridicules this man who goes to the west to earn an honest living working awful jobs.
First Syria is one of the most superficial Arab states : plastic surgery is so common , people brag about their nose jobs, people can only survive if they take bribes or participate in illegal trades or have an external income. People immigrate Mrs Shabaan not because they are greedy but perhaps because your regime did not provide them with the opportunities that immigration can provide. Maybe because they are respected more and treated like equals under the law something that your regime only applies to a certain sect.
Her pseudo intellectuality mercifully ends with this bezel of wisdom "When the distinction between the features of both sets of faces becomes clear in our mind and conscience, we can say the Arab renaissance has began." To that I say a famous Arabic proverb that can not be translated into English but will attempt to : Farting on Concrete.
I say Arab renaissance can NEVER begin as long as these regimes are in power (starting with Syria) who was transformed from a "republic" to a monarchy (what a joke was the election of Bashar was) that has no freedom of press or expression, where torture (Maher 'Arrar ) and imprisonment is the norm for anyone who disagrees with the Regime (Michele Kilo) where at the one hand Bashar screams death to "Israel" and on the other he runs to Turkey to negotiate with it.