The Revolutionary Cannot Speak

We were taught that the sun does not always shine
We were taught
Thousands mirrors worth a truthful face

We tried to unlearn, those many lines our memory cannot forsake
The revolution, we repeated, the revolution is the solution
A task we may never undertake

Our revolution is pure, and it is not White
It’s grounded and rooted in our sinful eyes

We are the people
We are the words of wisdom
Your books and think-tanks so eloquently did not foresee

The power lies in people
The Black Palestinian painfully teaches us

Why do I feel that I’ll soon be the last Syrian alive
40, 000 corpses can never lie
They lay underneath our sacred soil
They haunt us in protests
Occupy our banners
and online profiles

A burden I cannot bear
So like others, I long for the day I join the Shuhada

I cannot be the last Syrian alive
I cannot be the Syrian who left, and still alive

You think “critically” of our raw revolution, you say
You think and cite our savagery with references of youtube videos
You are as powerful as the states you oppose
States silence us with machine guns
They send us sleepless killers in black suits
States fight among each other
We have learned the drill

But you, like the White, speak on behalf of us
You are the intellectual whose privileged voice silenced our indigenous voices
You’re no friend of mine
The leftist, feminist and the pro Palestinian activist
Are names of spaces you proudly occupy
To me, they’re just another privileged class
You made it possible to become my enemy

Yes, I have said the word “enemy”
And I would say it in the class you teach
Below the many articles you publish
Where you could tell the world how my struggle isn’t consistent with yours

What is your struggle, I wonder
When you’re the diasporic subject and I am the postcolonial
I stand in front of systems, machines and propaganda
In my besieged land

Your battle has become my dream of freedom
Your intellect has become another bullet in my chest
A “friendly fire,” I do not call it

I am being silenced by your pen

The revolutionary cannot speak
She may never speak for years to come
She writes in her mother tongue
Speaks folky words and songs your memory can no longer grasp
The revolutionary speaks to her gender-less comrades
And you
The powerful male intellectual
You are not one.

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How Peaceful Revolutionaries Turned into Relief Activists in Damascus

My second article for Arab Revolutions blog is now up!

A group of Syrians fleeing violence in their country, walk towards the Turkish border, near Reyhanli. (AP)

“With the start of a new academic year the regime has been emptying the schools from forced migrants. Where will those migrants who lost their homes go after regime shelled their cities and neighborhoods? You constantly feel helpless before these events.

There are families in Douma, a suburb of Damascus, living on 20USD a month, 20USD! Assad speaks of concessions, fine, these are Syrian citizens who are now homeless, isn’t this the state’s responsibility? The Syrian government has resigned all its responsibilities towards its citizens. Instead, the government is waging war against them.”

Ruba*, a relief NGO employee in Syria, explains how the urgency of the growing tragedy of forced migrants has forced many peaceful revolutionaries to work as relief activists:

“The regime is purposely creating a humanitarian crisis and forcing activists to deal with it.”

“We, the middle class, flourished during Assad’s era. We enjoyed new services, and we knew that our economic situation has gotten better, but only at the expense of the working class. The very people who are now leading the revolution are the ones who were neglected by the state. They lost their jobs and homes are scattered in gardens and schools depending on our aid: middle class aid. Our role in this revolution is completely different from theirs, we have privileges and a lot to lose; they don’t. We’re bunch of hypocrites.” Ruba leans her head back against the sofa and stares as water drops from the air-conditioning on her living room floor.

Read rest of the article here. Check the French translation of the article available here  and German translation here.

Syrian Revolution Bookmarks #2

1- Foreign Policy publishes a number of Kafranbel banners, a city in Idleb that’s considered to draw and write the revolution’s most creative posters:

A town in northwestern Syria has become the creative center of the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad. Since the beginning of the uprising, the residents of Kafr Anbel have drawn signs that skewer the Assad regime and express outrage that the world has not done more to stop the killing in Syria.

The signs come in two basic varieties. Some are cartoons, often drawing their inspiration from Western movies or TV shows, which lampoon the Syrian government and its allies, notably Russian President Vladimir Putin. Others are straightforward, text-only banners that call for NATO intervention in Syria or arming the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA). Many of the signs are written in English.

Raed Fares, an activist in Kafr Anbel, explained to FP that the town’s residents chose to draw in English, rather than Arabic, explicitly to reach an international audience. “It’s very important to send our message to all the world,” he said. “And English is the public language.”

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Would You Be My Palestine?

We can buy Almaza and get to your uncle’s place while he’s having his Argileh with his friends outdoors.

We can buy some of the Armenian nuts you like.

We can sit next to each other on the Sofa.

We can get nervous.

We can allow silence to be so loud.

This is it.

We can turn Valentine into a sacred sin.

Would you break the law with me?

We can wait till we finish our first bottle.

We can forget about your tomorrow and mine.

You can let me start right here and now.

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Helem replies to Massad: We are not agents of the West

Ghassan Makarem founding member and current Executive Director of Helem replied to Joseph Massad’s interview conducted with him by Reset Doc website. Here’s an extract of the interview:

The real problem with Massad’s interview is the lies, fabrications, and insinuations of being agents of the West against the people in Helem. This is an opinion we have heard many times from Salafists and chauvinists. The contention that homosexuals are agents of the West, that they are “imposing Western values”, and that they belong to the upper classes was also used by Khomeini before rounding up homosexuals and executing them. It is the same justification given to call for the arrest of HIV positive persons in Egypt and elsewhere and to pass a viciously homophobic law in Uganda.

Read the whole article here.

After Two Years Behind Bars Syrian State Security Court Sentences A Syrian Blogger Three Years For "Spreading False News"

This is simply outrageous and heartbreakening. I cannot imagine what his parents feel right now. He was arrested when he was 29 and now he will be released when he’s 34. and for what? for not giving the Syrian intelligence the names of people who spoke against the Syrian government in the forum he administrates. Yes, that’s Kareem Arbaji, Kareem is being sentenced because he is defending his friends, he is being sentenced as a punishment, because he defied not the “persona” of the government, but the very “system” of intelligentsia in Syria, where people got accustomed, out of fear and due to torture, to turning each other in to the government. Kareem did nothing “wrong” and said nothing “wrong”, but he paid two years for his “non-Syrian” principles, and now he is paying three more. This is unforgivable, they send children to Europe when they get raped, how you like them now grownups? hypocrite.

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Iraq's New Surge: Gay Killings

Excellent article on the killings of gays in Iraq written by Rasha Moumneh appeared yesterday on Foreign Policy:

Western attention has always focused primarily on sectarian attacks in Iraq. Yet al-Sadr’s militia and its counterparts in countless neighborhoods and towns have long had other targets in their cross hairs. These men claim to bear the banners of religion and morality, defending against any transgressors. They paint themselves as the caretakers of tradition, culture, and national authenticity — which often means keeping women, as well as men, in their rigidly enforced traditional roles. Ironically, they sell their violence as a means of security: Amid the total upheaval of Iraqi society over the last eight years, many people regard any relaxing of gender roles as a threat to public order, undermining patriarchal power. And since the coalition forces failed to provide security after the invasion, such cultural conservatives have moved in to fill the role. Many aimless, unemployed advocates of rigid traditionalism have taken up the task with their guns.

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