Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Messi: the secret revolutionary | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Over and over again I watched the report on the Addounia television channel accusing Barcelona FC and their star player Lionel Messi of secretly conveying a weapons smuggling route from Lebanon into Syria, by playing a match against Real Madrid. Every time I returned to watch the report – just as others who have seen it or heard about it – I ask: What was the intention of the producers when they made this report?

Really, what was the point?

Certainly, their goal was not for us to believe that Messi is a secret revolutionary smuggling arms to Syria and sending coded messages with his kicks and passes, just as they previously did not intend us to believe that the Syrians had come out to demonstrate in order to give thanks to the rain, or that Olivier Roy, a specialist in political Islamist movements, had spoken to Addounia channel praising the policies of Bashar al-Assad, which of course Roy subsequently denied.

What benefit does the Syrian regime draw from this propaganda which it imposes upon its pro-Assad audience, as well as those who refuse to accept or listen to such stories, astonished by the sheer lack of both reason and logic? Indeed such stories are amazing, but what is truly amazing is the motive behind broadcasting this report. The mentality of the Syrian regime is far more sinister than accusing Lionel Messi of being involved in the revolution, the point of this report was purely to amaze us.

We were shocked at the farcical nature of these allegations, and this is exactly what the regime wants. In other words, it seeks to address us on this farcical level, and when the Syrians protest against the regime, al-Assad’s media does not hesitate to address them also with such comic material. Yet it does so whilst it is killing demonstrators, targeting cities and murdering children.

Of course, the Addounia television channel embodies the media policy of the Syrian regime, which from day one of its dealings with the Syrian revolution has proceeded – for political rather than rational reasons – to pump huge amounts of false slogans, news and analysis to producers and viewers alike. It may seem that the viewer is unaffected by this, as the material is so ridiculous it does not resonate with the mind, but it does provoke our tendency to laugh and be amazed.

The fact is that the recent farcical claims put forward by this channel in its report about Barcelona FC is the latest step in the regime’s policy of forcing the Syrians to accept its propaganda and its explanations, no matter how silly or ridiculous they are.

With regards to the story about Messi conspiring with the Syrian revolution, we must act on the basis that we do not care much about the truthfulness of the story, but we should be wary of giving it our attention and questioning it.

There is no other way to deal with this.

It is said that if we comply [with a ruling authority] based on our own convictions then this is not actually genuine compliance, because the ruling authority is in effect agreeing with our private judgments. However, in the case of the Syrian regime and its unprecedented propaganda, it seeks to impose a form of blind obedience that does not bear any rational weight, and it resonates with the contempt and paranoia of the pro-Assad audience before others.

After the Addounia report, Syrian activists issued a false video recording in response, acknowledging that Lionel Messi regretted his involvement in the case exposed by Addounia television station.

Since the accusation that Messi is a Syrian revolutionary is ridiculous, it only merits a comic response.