Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The regime’s rhetoric | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Last year, the number of friends I have on Facebook doubled.

I do not know most of them personally; however the Syrian revolution, with its momentum and character and tragedies has served as a basis to connect with Syrian youth and writers and other figures that we do not often hear from, thanks to the complexities in the Lebanese and Syrian situation. The walls of Facebook are full of opinions, pictures and comments on the situation in Syria, and Facebook has served as a space to get to know others and discuss issues and put forward views and opinions. The walls of my Facebook friends’ now serve as a space to monitor inter-Syrian discussions on the revolution. These discussions sometimes turn tearful or angry, whilst at other times they burst with laughter and sarcasm.

After every massacre or bombardment or arrest or video depicting death and torture, Facebook is filled with fierce debates that were timid or conservative during the first weeks of the revolution, but which have become fiercer and more violent with the escalation of the violence and brutality of the Syrian regime.

Such debates see Syrians trade comments like: “I am not saying this because I am a Sunni”. “The Alawites have nothing to do with this”. “The sect must decide”. “What do you mean? Have you now understood the issue!” and even “you are partners in the crimes that are taking place, and you must now pay the price for this!”

Day after day, the discussions on Facebook are being overshadowed by an atmosphere that is full of mutual suspicion and fear of the other.

This is something that is perhaps understandable, for what is taking place in Syria is beyond any reason, logic or conscience. There can be nothing worse or more brutal than the massacre that took place in Houla, particularly as this served as a clear and frank message [from the regime]. We were then told: Alawite pro-regime Shabiha militia attacked Sunni families and completely destroy them, whilst the worst thing they did was take part in the wholesale slaughtering of children!

Does this not represent a clear and frank inciting of civil conflict in Syria?

This was an open message implemented and promoted by the regime, and it has, unfortunately, been taken up by many section of society, including the Syrian elite.

In reality, this incitement has intensified and Facebook is now the scene for exchanging angry sectarian views and opinions by those who previously swore they would never reach this level of division and incitement. Whilst it is true that this is due to the anger and rage that has been incited by the slaughtering of children, still…

Despite the horrifying brutality that we witnessed in Houla and Hama, and prior to this in Karm el-Zaytoun, this does not justify such discourse, particularly as we are talking about civilians with high – or at least middling – levels of education and culture.

Cracks have begun to appear in once strong friendships, whilst in reality all parties are the victims of this regime and its discourse, which has convinced everybody, and which portrays the revolution as the intransigent party.

The Syrian street may have seen individual sectarian events alongside the deliberate practices that are being carried out by the regime, but there is something that is beginning to creep into discourse, culture and relations, and this is the mixing of religion and politics. Therefore slogans and discourse have become sectarian, whilst those who should have addressed and responded to this are falling into its trap!