I am going to cut the chase and get straight to the points I want to make here, there are many things I want to say in Arabic later on but I am going to say here what I am incapable linguistically to say in Arabic, unfortunately, I am westernized.
The campaign that some Syrian bloggers launched against homosexuality which has technically begun yesterday is the first campaign that has to do with Syrian social matters. To be more specific, this campaign is identity-based. Bloggers feel that because they’re Arabs and Syrian and of course, Muslims, they’re threatened by the existence of homosexuals. Not just because god said so in Quraan, but also because they feel that the reason why homosexuals are getting more vocal about their rights is because of the internet, western interference through tv and movies, and what have you.
I have to say here, that part of what they’re saying is true, but not quite so. But we’ll get into that later on in other post.
What I find so interesting about this campaign is that and as I have said above it is an identity-based campaign. Syrian bloggers campaigned to free a fellow Syrian blogger. Tariq Biasi, they campaigned for occupied Palestine and occupied Gaza, they campaigned for occupied Golan Heights also. Campaigns about freedom of speech and Palestinian and Golan liberty does not reflect the “who I am” formula the campaign against homosexuality heavily carries within it. By saying “I am against homosexuals”, Syrian bloggers are saying this is who we are, we are Muslims, we are Syrians, and we are normal human beings. We want to save our society, we are locals and we wont let strangers to take the only thing we got; our identity.
As much as I “oppose” the simplistic, clichéd, typical argument this campaign offers, this very simplicity is exactly what the Syrian society is constructed of: ready-made thoughts, traditions and habits, so called “religious values” (which are not really religious but I am going to talk about that later in other post), these typical thoughts that some of us disagree with and in fact want to change are nothing but what Syrian society is made of. Hence opposing this campaign mean that I am opposing a whole society, and by doing so, my opposition per se, is meaningless. What I should do along with my opposition is talking as well, really talking and explaining and let the other understand where I come from, which I haven’t done in a long time and I was wrong not doing so.
Let me continue explaining why this campaign is the only authentic campaign Syrian bloggers that has ever launched: it’s because it is a non-virtual campaign. The virtual becomes a non-virtual for the first time in the Syrian blogsphere concerning an unspeakable taboo. As the matter of fact, it is the only non-virtual campaign the Syrian bloggers have ever launched.
Syrian bloggers calling for freedom of speech in Syria is like fucking for virginity. And Syrian bloggers calling for the liberation of Palestine and Golan heights is exclusively virtually authenticated; it means that it is only real in the virtual world, so I am not sure how real it is.
Syrian citizens cannot non-virtually be calling for any of these matters on the ground. Even for Palestine and Golan heights, Syrians are being censored and closely watched by Syrian intelligence. I know Syrians and Palestinians in Syria who are not allowed to leave the country because they were pro-Palestinian activists within Palestinian camps. And certainly, Golan Heights is a Syrian state matter and not the people’s. With regards to Golan Heights campaign, Syrian bloggers are self-conscious about their incapability to be activists on the ground for Golan and that’s one major reason why they had to campaign about it virtually.
In other words, in Syria things go this way: we blog what we cannot say in public in Syria.
But the campaign against homosexuality is not the same as the rest of the campaigns. Syrian society is homophobic, sectarian, racist and discriminate against women. And all these matters are considered taboo to be discussed in the Syrian blogsphere, different kind of taboo: we all pretend to be the “good blogger” who is against honor crimes, sectarianism, racism and we never talk about women issues in Syria, there are some exception of course but generally speaking, it seems that we want to look good so bad-or that we are in denial- that we cannot say what we are daily living to preserve being a “good blogger” or a “good Syrian”. In other words, silence about problems in Syria is how we deal with these problems in order to change, as Syrians.
So why this campaign is authentic and real and very important to change? for example, if Syrian bloggers campaigned IN SOLIDARITY with homosexuals it would be the same as the rest of the campaigns, too good to be true. I wouldn’t feel good about it precisely because it would be exclusively virtual and thus inauthentic.
The authenticity and the historical spatial reality of any idea or an opinion no matter how horrible it might be is our only key for change in Syria.
I consider this campaign a success for myself because I personally feel that I provoked the unspeakable and now it’s out so loud and it’s time that we have our long awaited little talk.
It also made me realized how wrong I was, I acted stupidly to bloggers who uttered some bad words against homosexuals, sexual liberty for women and erotica, topics that I blog heavily on this blog.
But things are going to change from now on, it took me Daddy Long Legs, Adnan and Lina and Treasure Island :) to understand that I need to smile and take a deep breath before I start talking.
It is very outrageous for some and for me to hear arguments that are against non-virgin women and homosexuals, but these very thoughts are real, and we need to feel good about having Syrian bloggers who depict the majority of the Syrian society, cause without them, we ourselves, won’t be real anymore, we will think that Syria is fine, everything is fine, and we won’t be able to touch a bit of what is not so fine about us.
22 thoughts on “Notes on Syrian Bloggers Campaign Against Homosexuality”
If I understand you correctly, you are saying that you can resolve this double stands, static predicament of Syrian society by using one taboo to intersect or awakening the conscious to making face other taboos.
Aadla, thank you for your comment.
No I wasn’t really talking about taboos here, and I think homophobia in the Arab-speaking world is more than just a taboo, so is the tradition of virginity, they, along with other elements, constitute the foundations of Arab-Muslim identity, and to shake these foundations it will need more than just opposing them, or as i was doing, fighting with these guys.
Social change or social resistance is perhaps one of the most difficult battles one carries, for you’re dealing with your family, friends, neighbors, pretty much your loved ones and your people.
Anyway, my point in this post is the necessity of authenticity in the world of activism, i guess.
Great essay, very subtle – and the one before is good too.
I would like to send you an email if at all possible, though I can’t find one on your site. You have my email through wordpress, so if you feel up for getting in touch, please do! In particular, I’m wondering if you might be up for writing something for our website and newspaper.
libertarian communist from London
Thank you for your kind comment and your invitation to write on your site and newspaper. It is my pleasure and I will be sending you an email soon.
Good analysis. You always surprise me with your ability to adapt or rather evolve your thinking about a particular topic – that’s a compliment ;)
Dear Abu Kareem,
You have no idea how comments from you, Abu Fares, Dubai Jazz, Alex, Lujain, Yazan, Omar, Omar and the rest, whether you agree with me or not, makes me feel.
I miss you all and you being in the blogsphere means a lot to me.
thank you for your comment :)
moving the stagnant waters..I like that ,however I have three remarks :
-I believe it is exaggerated to describe the Syrian society as” homophobic, sectarian, racist and discriminate against women”, such a blanket ( and extreme) judgment is not accurate and doesn’t set the stage for a rational dialogue.
-You discredit many Syrian bloggers(me among them) when you charge that our rallying for issues as the occupied Golan and Palestine is only virtual , this is not the case as far as I am concerned , and I challenge that even those you describe as “authentic” can’t move their so-called campaign against homosexuality to the real world , censorship doesn’t care what you are saying ,all it want is to shut you up no matter what you are advocating.
-In line with your thesis I think it is about time we start calling for the important issues like the rights of women as our “people’s assemply” proved to be incapable of amending the law ,we should take this responsibilty and contribute to the betterment of society by spreading awarness and talking about the subject.
on your first point: it’s OK, we both view the Syrian society differently. I don’t think that if we think differently we wont be having a rational dialogue, on the contrary, we’ll be having a serious talk.
on your last point: I wasn’t calling for syrian bloggers to be cyber activists or even syrian people to be activists, i was rather saying that because some syrian bloggers, and i am the worst here, judge thoughts that are discriminate against a group of people, so Syrian bloggers dont have the space to speak their minds, thoughts that they live every day. I think its time that we “deal” with the problems than “condemning” them. I dont think that all boggers don’t care if a women is not married and not virgin, if she lives alone in Syria, if she’s wearing whatever she wants. I think whoever oppose such thoughts should be allowed to speak in order to talk things through and perhaps reach an understanding for both of us.
On your second point: I dont think identity-based campaigns can be put on the same level of “political” campaigns. whereas the latter calls for the liberation of Golan, the former is a living process. and for that, it goes beyond the process of hitting the streets and calling for the diminishing of homosexuals. Homosexuals are “already” diminished in the Syrian society with or without a demonstration precisely because it has to do with the self-image of syrian society and its identity.
so i wasn’t discrediting anyone really, when i say “authentic” i dont mean people are being true to themselves and the rest werent. “authenticity” here should be read within the historical space of a given society.
for example, one of the reasons that a black man wasnt elected as a president of the US is because the American society wasnt ready for it. so the process of not electing a black man before or a women even though they reflect discrimination, is in itself authentic.
hope my points were clear and thanks for your remarks.
Let me continue explaining why this campaign is the only authentic campaign Syrian bloggers that has ever launched
P.S. This is not a Syrian campaign and it’s not meant to address Syrian fagots.
I wish you wouldnt use the word “fagots” when commenting on my blog for it makes me sad. I have many friends who are dear to my heart that are homosexuals, and i am queer myself, so by using the word “fagot” you are disrespecting me in my own blog and disrespecting dear people to me. I am sure you’re exquisite enough to make your point without disrespecting anyone.
as for being a non-Syrian campaign, i know the the organizers of this campaign are all syrians, you might be participating and other might have but the founders are syrians and to found something is different than joining it later.
Aouni, is your use of the word “fagots” part of the campain?
Also, could you explain your P.S. a bit more?
thank you for your comments and support on my blog, they are priceless :)
hope you’re doing alright,
No problem, it’s the very least I can do.
I’m doing well, thanks. How are YOU doing? Frankly, I wonder how you can stand dealing with so many irrational arguments, red herrings, strawmen and poor debating tactics. I should learn from you….
Well, learning from you, I’m in the process of writing a few analysis points which I’ll post on my blog. Your patience is contagious, Razanne.
my dear friend,
this goes beyond the borders of little Syria and extends to the rest of the world.
I think those of them (Homophobics) who are Syrians, Arabs, Muslims, christians, jews, and right wingers in general, at least resort to some “higher calling” to blame/credit their attitude, which is -as pathetic as it is- understood from my point of view, cos not everyone is equipped with this little thing called “Brain” ;-) that allows people to make informed decisions..
the dangerous ones are those who wear the moderate faces in public, write informed and well-formulated comments, but are regardless revolted by the thought of same-sex relationships.. I would have much more respect for someone who is straight forward about his ideas (like Mr. Camel) as long as they don’t resolve to insult and degradation in expressing their views.. cos not liking gays is not that different from not liking eggplants after all ;-) if you don’t like it, don’t come near it ..
society has always been built on the “fear of the other” as I see it.. which is why whites hate blacks, westerners hate easterns, Christians hate muslims, shami people hate non-shami’s, straight hate gays.. etc.. etc…. sometimes enough to kill, and sometimes enough to launch a virtual campaign.. and the way I see it now, as long as there is no killing or physical abuse, then expressing this reject of the other is a healthy way of exercising “freedom of thought”.. even if it is a display of narrow minded ideologies… the world will be a very boring place if everyone agreed on everything.. moo?
anyway, I never had the chance to say this to you since I dissolved from the face of the blogsphere.. but I am happy for you to have come out.. you must have an incredible sense of freedom now..
I am so happy you visited my blog and made an appearance in the blogsphere-on my blog :)
you’ve been terribly missed, I hope everything is fine with you and I hope you reconsider blogging again, it’s getting exhausting i must say, hell i thought about quitting blogging more than once this month, but i guess it’s not happening.
About me “come out” is actually a bit complicated, i liked women all my life but it was only when i went to lebanon and meet women like me that i realized that this is real. I am not a lesbian nor bisexual even though lately i am getting attracted to women only.
I don’t believe in social structure of female and male sex, my queerness is inspired by the queer theory:
its like an anarchist approach to gender.
Your comment meant a lot to me and I hope we’ll be seeing more of you sometime soon!
say hi to the madame.
Well I am not doing so good really, I am confused and things are getting too messy in terms of the arguments posted and I feel that the mechanism of “responding” to these arguments wouldn’t be the right thing to do.
So yeah patience is the key for a good quality post.
thank you again for your comments and support :)
I’ve been following this blog for a while now, the more I read from this, the more admiration I have for you!
Here’s my question: I left Syria when I was 15, thus, I feel that I am in no way privileged to comment on Syrian society. Although, I have been involved in organizations here in Canada that are trying to drive social change, and if you thought that creating social change in Syria was difficult, you should try doing that here in Canada. How do you think social change can be created in Syria?
In Canada, we’ve come to identify two aspects: behavior change, and attitude change. Those two aspects drive each other in a complex cycle. I’d like to hear from you if you think this could be applicable to Syrian society – my theory is that it is.
Thank you Majdal for your comment,
I am not sure if I have an answer to that question, simply I am not qualified to answer it.
But what nation exactly on this earth doesnt need to change? and what nation won’t? power to people? *evil smile*
Wow Razan, I haven’t visited your blog for a while, and now I return to find such an intriguing and subtle post. If you’re calling yourself an “anarchist queer” because “queer is an anarchist approach to gender” then you’ve definitely evolved in some interesting ways, and I’m all for it.
To say that you prefer activism against homosexuals over “too good to be true” activism, because it’s an authentic reflection of the society you live in and a sign that people are speaking honestly about issues that matter, is both courageous and wise. I hesitate to go so far myself, because bigotry is dangerous, but in thinking about it, I realize that I operate the same way.
Even here in the West, many people are far more socially conservative than I am. They have an authority complex or a “fear of the other” that I don’t hav. But rather than dismiss their views as beneath my interest, I want to engage them, communicate with them, because social solidarity means engaging with everyone, not just those I agree with. We all depend on each other, and maybe they will save my ass one day in a crisis, because they have skills I don’t have, even though we don’t see eye to eye on cultural issues.
If I want others to acknowledge me for who I am, I have to do the same and not dismiss their views from my “educated, worldly” perspective. Bigotry is (sadly) a natural reaction for many people whenever too much change leaves them disoriented. As a friend of mine said recently, “There is no evil in the world, only misunderstanding.” I think the way to react to such views is with compassion and an attempt to inform. If that’s what you’re getting at, I admire your democratic (or anarchistic) spirit and this thoughtful post!
It’s always pleasure to have you here on this blog, my approach to gender is has to do with the Queer Theory, I am very influenced by Judith Butler. And yes, I think it’s fair to say that queer theory is an anarchist view on gender.
Believe me dear, eatbees, I wasn’t very tolerant with these view before, but not sure when the topic of homosexuality came on surface, I felt happy and I would welcome any conversation about it, with or against it.
I am sorry I havent responded to your comment earlier, I wanted to say smarter stuff to you but I am just too preoccupied with many stuff lately :)
Always happy to hear from you,
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