For over 90 minutes, the Syrian President gave a speech at Damascus University , with audience of millions of Syrian, Lebanese and Arabs following his every word.
Well aware of the cameras focused on his face and following his every gesture, the “young president”, as some prefer to call him, started by justifying his paleness. His was a long speech full with nationalist phrases delivered in an aggressive tone which was not confined to politics; he attacked the media once more.
Bashar Assad had previously condemned the media especially that of Lebanon, in his famous speech in front of the Syrian Parliament when he announced his troops would withdraw from Lebanon. Both speeches include a critique of the media for its role in propagating lies and fabrications.
The Syrian President called on his people to differentiate between Arab media organizations that defend Arab causes and others that report in Arabic but adopt the case of the enemies, as he put it.
The problem remains the same… If the media is not Arab nationalistic as the Baath understand it, if it is not free of any criticism or calls to put an end to the military and security domination, if it is not calling for truth to be uncovered in several crimes committed under the banner of nationalism, if it is not free from dissent, it is an Arabic-language media but not one defending Arabs.
Assad used his latest speech to give us a lesson! Undoubtedly, his rhetoric and the Baath ideology are attractive to audiences in the developing world where Arab nationalism, military might and the fantasies of armed resistance are sacrosanct. Moreover, this is the exact same way they would prefer the media to view things.
Does the Syrian President and those who share his views believe that a number of journalists affiliated with the regime, its party, security bodies and media are able to convince the Syrian people that the incredible pressure piled on Damascus will disappear after a few hours of speeches? That the crisis the government created is in fact a conspiracy and that the regime is blameless, as Assad indicated in his speech?
No one believes the media in the Arab world is free and independent. However, the information age we now live in has made facts easier to obtain and increased their impact. Sounds, pictures and slogans, previously unheard and unseen have penetrated faraway locations. No regime is now able to prevent this from happening.