Fadwa Suleiman’s Speech Represents Me

I have my reservations on the Syrian National Council, Burhan Ghalioun’s “apology” to the Kurds is shameful, and in a free democratic Syria the battle against nationalism and national Arab identity will continue, it will take a while, a long while, until we reach that separation between “belonging” and “identity.” What the hell is identity and why do we need it in the first place? Some say, that in order to lose “conventional self-identification,” or sectarianism, we need to be “Syrians.” But isn’t by becoming Syrians, we enhance a racist, national identification as being solely “Arabs”? Or else, why do we refer to “Syrian-Kurds” as such? Once we drop hyphenations, we become as one, and in order to be one, we need to lose those national preconceptions of ourselves, as Sunni Muslims or as Arabs.

I don’t know what “Syrians” means, belonging to a geographical border? owning a “similar consciousness”? Don’t get me wrong, I do relate to the people of Syria the most, but that is also relative. I am sure someone supporting Hezbolla relates to a Syrian supporter of Assad, and someone like me, relates to all revolutionaries in the region. So what the hell?

I do not believe in a ‘national consciousness,’ I don’t believe in nationality, look how it is interpreted by those apologetic to Assad crimes, and those who’re fighting for their dignity and freedom, and they’re all “Syrians.”

So please, do not talk to me about being “Syrians.” I want to be something else, like Homsi or Dar’awi for example.

Colonization made us all a bunch of nationalists, and because of that we made Arab Jews our enemies. Fighting for a label than for a value. I want to be living hand in hand with all of you, and this cannot be done if we see ourselves as “majorities” and “minorities.” The foundation of this logic lies in nationalism. Look at Iranian regime’s idea of nationalism, it’s not sectarianism we’re taking about here, it’s precisely nationalism. Nationalism that colors a whole nation in one color, one self-identification based on “majority.” I am not an Arab, I am not a Sunni, but people see me like a Sunni and an Arab nonetheless. I don’t want to be a citizen when other citizens are prevented from getting their rights, I don’t want to be a Syrian when other Syrians cannot be one.

Syrian actress Fadwa Suleiman appeared this week at a demonstration in Homs. The regime is looking for her now, her life is in danger. She begun hunger strike 3 days ago.

I came here to talk about Fadwa Suleiman’s speech she made yesterday, and here I am rambling about postcolonial anxieties. Anyways, this woman is amazing, really, and not because she’s an Alawite, I am not sure if you don’t know this, but if you’re an Alawite, and you’re opposing the Syrian regime, you’re not only considered a “traitor,” but also you will be boycotted from those supporting the regime, and you’re most likely be killed, not because you’re opposing the regime, but precisely because you’re an Alawite and opposing the regime.

This is the first and only speech made by a Syrian woman publicly addressing her people, this is the first time that a Syrian actress addresses her people and starts a hunger strike, do you understand how courageous she is? Do you understand how much she is in danger right now?

She’s fighting for a value, she’s fighting for a whole different Syria, and I want to hear from Burhan Ghalioun is to say the same.

Listen to her speech here and read the English translation on Abu Kareem’s blog here. For a little background on Suleiman, here’s a good piece about her on BBC, I am sure you won’t find it on Angry Arab’s blog or MRZine.org and the likes.

5 thoughts on “Fadwa Suleiman’s Speech Represents Me

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Excellent post, Razan. The point you made about Arab Jews is true to an extent, but not entirely. It is true that nationalism has intensified the persecution of Arab Jews and eventually led to their mass exodus (another reason for that exodus is Jewish nationalism – Zionism). However, persecution of Jews in Arab/Muslim lands predates nationalism and colonialism. For example, in 1066, 5,000 Jews were murdered in Muslim-controlled Granada by a mob incited by a Muslim preacher. In the 12th century, the Jews (and Christians) were expelled from Morocco and Islamic Spain. In 1465, all the Jews of Fez except a dozen were murdered by a mob. Jewish Arabs were forced to convert to Islam in different times in Yemen, Iraq and Morocco and synagogues were destroyed with decrees in Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Morocco in different times, all prior to colonialism.

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  3. Samir says:

    Elizabeth, I think you miss the point. Sure, pre-colonialism, there was mistreatment of Jews by Arabs, but colonialism and post era did not help it.

    I, an Arab, have memories in Lebanon of a thriving and great small Jewish community in Beirut. Unfortunately, with the civil war they fled understandably. I think Razan, I and others are saying that we wish this was not the case. Yes, your historical points are true, but we are looking to the future. An inclusive future. Not all Arabs hate Jews. I don’t. Sure a lot do, as do many Jews hate Arabs. I deal with it plenty, but hey that is life.

    Let us all try to be part of the solution and not the problem.

  4. GwenC says:

    More people need to be as courageous and outspoken as you two women. Inspirational. Both of you are. Thank you for motivating and giving me something to strive for.

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