Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Syrian media and doctored footage | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Sometimes one finds oneself doing something masochistic for no clear reason, and so does something whilst being quire aware in advance that this will only lead to harm. Man seems to be naturally disposed to this kind of behaviour, ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command not to eat of the forbidden fruit, yet they were deceived by the devil and expelled from heaven. Man is like a child whose parents warn him against playing with fire, but nevertheless does so and burns himself.

This was my frame of mind on the second day of Eid. I had some free time to relax at home, but instead of spending this time reading and thinking, I decided to watch Syrian state television’s coverage of the Syrian revolution. What I saw shocked me as if I had been prodded with a live wire.

Since the outbreak of the revolution, the Syrian media has been striving to portray what is happening in the country as a huge conspiracy against the “resistance”, claiming that the world has mobilized radical terrorists to spread chaos and destruction across Syria. The regime films demonstrations and utilizes primitively and naively doctored footage. For example, whenever there is a pro-revolution flag or slogan, the camera abruptly and absurdly cuts away, whilst the Syrian media is also attempting to portray the refugee camps in Turkey (which house an estimated 70,000 Syrian refugees) as terrorist training camps. Following this, political analysts (who look more like psychologists or specialists in the science of tyranny and oppression) appeared on the screen. I heard one of the analysts say that what is happening in Syria is a result of a “mistake” on the part of President Bashar al-Assad. This statement caused me to rub my eyes in disbelief, for how did this man allow himself to commit suicide live on television by accusing President Bashar al-Assad of committing a mistake! I was eager to see how he would get himself out of this, and the analyst went on to say that “President al-Assad opened the way for freedom in Syria, allowing freedom of expression, assembly and democracy, and now the people of Syria are paying the price for the abuse of the president’s gifts!” This man did not appear remotely ashamed of himself and decided to continue with his “struggle”. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes and said “I want to say this explicitly and bravely” – and here I could not stop myself from applauding this linguistically miraculous sentence – “that Bashar al-Assad is Syria’s conscience” adding “he is the country’s present and future.” At this point, I felt a sense of pity for this man, and for the future of his family, after he will, no doubt, pay the price for his exceptional “bravery” [in the post-revolution period].

This absurd statement was being made whilst two broadcasters nodded gravely to suggest agreement and approval, as if everyone was under mass hypnosis! Fear of the al-Assad regime has forced the entire country to believe lies for decades until the Syrian people lived under a constant state of intimidation and oppression, whilst now people are ready to tell one lie after another for the sake of salvation.

The regime is unable to clarify Maher al-Assad’s health condition or the defection of Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa, who has completely disappeared from view, although the regime denies this. This is the same regime that has, from day one, absurdly fabricated one lie after another. This reminds me of the successive television dramas produced in Syria and broadcast widely across the Arab world. These television dramas have focused on the despotic French colonial rule of the country, the tyranny of Turkish rule and the corruption of the early governments following independence. Such dramas were being produced as the Baathist government of al-Assad the father, and later al-Assad the son, practiced far greater injustice, despotism and corruption than all previous governments. There can be no doubt that the pathetic Syrian media is based on lies and selling illusions to the people.

However today, all masks have slipped, whilst “rhetoric” is no longer of use. As for me, I have to make up the time I wasted watching Syrian television – which afflicted me with nausea and a stomach ache – and make sure I do not make this mistake again!

Following the collapse of the al-Assad regime, I would suggest that Syrian television remains in its current state, to serve as a cure for depression and stomach pains, based on the Arab proverb that goes: whoever look at other people’s problems will see that their own pale in comparison.