Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The child who shook Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In fact, Hamza al-Khatib not only shook Syria, but also the conscience of the entire world. After several days of denial campaigns in the official Syrian media, the Syrian regime broke its silence and declared that an investigation would be conducted with regards to the brutal torture suffered by the child.

Hamza’s story was then investigated, and according to the Syrian regime and its statements, the child had not been tortured, but forensic evidence instead proved that he had received three bullet wounds which led to his death! This excuse is worse than the crime, because how is it [any more justifiable] to kill a child with three bullets? In fact, what about the 30 children altogether who have been killed by gunfire in the uprising, according to UNICEF? The whole story from beginning to end is depressing and disgusting, and its details justify the condemnation that the Syrian regime and its media are receiving. The latter has become something of a joke in Syria: Rather than Syrians telling their children that those who lie go to hell, they now say those who lie go to the Syrian media. We are witnessing the emergence of a new provocative media, which is strangely tolerated by the wider Arab media. This is the phenomenon of Syrian “analysts” who defend the regime. I doubt whether they even believe themselves, and they are what I call the “new al-Sahafis”, with reference to the former Iraqi Minister of Information, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf.

Interestingly, these “analysts” talked about the Salafis and armed groups, only for the President to come out and acknowledge the legitimate demands of the protestors, hence undermining what the analysts said. Then they said the Lebanese were responsible for supporting the Syrian demonstrations, and referred to cheques paid to fund the uprising in an attempt to prove this, which then turned out to be fake. Then one analyst came out and described the Syrian protestors as “scum”, whilst the Syrian President came out and announced an amnesty! Respected Arab news outlets in our region should not accept the emergence of this phenomenon, and if the Syrian regime wants to defend itself, it should do so through an allocated official spokesperson, or through the regime’s Minister of Information. It could even do so through a security spokesman, as long as the security forces hold the upper hand in Damascus today. Yet it must not use these “analysts” who the media stations know, more than anyone else, are not credible. As an aside, there is a video on “YouTube” showing a demonstration in a Syrian town, where the demonstrators are chanting the names of these “analysts” affiliated with the Syrian regime, and after each one loudly shouting: Liar!

Therefore, at a time when the Syrian President has offered his condolences to the family of the child victim, we should remember that Hamza has become a symbol for the shaken Syrians, just like Bouazizi was for the Tunisians, even after former Tunisian President Ben Ali visited him in hospital before he died, and then stepped down from power. Hamza is also a symbol like the Egyptian Khaled Saeed.

The whole world heard the cry of injustice coming from the child’s family, and it struck their conscience. Even the U.S. station “CNN” displayed selected images of Hamza’s body, which were first broadcast by “al-Jazeera”, where the news anchor Anderson Cooper said: “we have found it necessary to display these images so the world can see the brutality of the Syrian regime”. Indeed, everyone saw the brutal image, except the Arab League it seems!