Category Archives: Syria

“I Walk and my Heart is in Damascus, I Walk”

By Yazan Kherallah, LSA Junior at the University of Michigan.

:A friend of mine told me of this verse recently

“أسير و قلبي في دمشق أسير”

.It means “I walk and my heart is in Damascus, I walk”. I’ve always loved and cherished Damascus. I love its food, its history, its people, and its weather. There’s a comfort of sorts you get when you’re in Damascus. The lazy afternoons on the baranda (house terrace) eating fruits and playing cards, the crowded Souq al-Hamadiyeh (street market), the view from Jabal Qasioun, and the sense of kindred and affection you feel over there all left a strong impression on me. But fate has its ways and since life was hard in Syria, my family decided to move away.

We left fooling ourselves, thinking that going back every summer and break that we could make up for the time we lost. My dad would work to save money, thinking that at some point, he could retire and go back to the life he loved. Jobs and opportunities took us to Chicago, Detroit, Jeddah, and Riyadh.  People always commented on how unsettled our lives were. However, it was just the opposite, because although we walked all across the world, our hearts never really left Damascus.

A year into the Syrian Revolution and that poetic verse rings more true than ever, “I walk and my heart is in Damascus, I walk”. I haven’t been back in a year, but my mind is more engaged in what is happening back home in Syria than with anything at hand in the States. My studies are second priority to calling my family, seeing how they’re doing. I often waste hours without noticing going from one article and YouTube video to another.  I think of all the time and effort I put into such pity work; how if I could take all the time I spend reading foreign policy articles and joining seemingly pointless rallies thousands of miles away and putting it into actual work helping those inside Syria, how much help I could be.

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Multiple Oppressors, One Struggle

By Zeinab Khalil, Sophomore at the University of Michigan

I never imagined that I would have to write this. I would rather not, but this a problematic trend that needs to be addressed.

Headlines of 50, 60, 100 people killed in a Syrian city make their way to us each day. The gruesome images that no one wants to look at are there. The videos that the Assad regime hopes we will eventually become desensitized to or become too sick to watch anymore are there. The horrifying stories of toddlers murdered at gunpoint are documented and known. The reports of journalists killed by the Syrian army’s shelling for trying to do their job are there. Everything we need to know to make a sound judgment about the “situation” in Syria is here. There is no question about the Assad regime’s ongoing savage and merciless attacks on the Syrian people- protesters, rebels, and civilians, whoever they may be. There are names and faces behind these numbers. They come with families, careers, ambitions and feelings. They are human. Yet some seem to have forgotten this fact, and have turned this into a question of conspiracies, dirty politics and double standards. Continue reading

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Remember February 1982 & Be Aware in 2012

By Noor Haydar, LSA Senior at the University of Michigan

We’re a forgetful people. In my religion, God tells us this. He also tells us that the successful are those who remember. History is as near to us as what happened last week, and we are unable to understand events because their contexts are so far removed from our own today. The world changes so rapidly with every minute, and we know about these changes in real time. What I want to share with you is relevant to today, yesterday and especially tomorrow.

Hama, 1982

It it is relevant to as far back as 1982. The month of February is almost upon us. In February of 1982, Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad ordered his troops into the city of Hama and ordered the squashing of what he believed, was dissent that was threatening to his regime.

The Syrian Human Rights committee estimates that 40,000 people were killed in 3 weeks time. The city was in ruin. Families were shattered, lives shambled.

This past year, I had the privilege of performing Hajj (the required pilgrimage to Mecca). My sister and I usually walked to prayer together, but being the day before our departure, she was buying gifts and had to return them to the hotel room. I went ahead and ended up sitting next to a woman who made a place for me in a crowded space. I sprung up a conversation as I saw a Syrian flag on her bag. She told me she was from Hama. She turned the questioning toward me and so I shared with her my Damascene heritage and that I had lived in America my entire life. Because of the way the uprisings in Syria seems to polarize people, she appeared hesitant to speak to me after hearing both of those facts. We talked about Hajj, the weather etc, and then prayer started. Because of the lack of support Damascus has given the uprising, and because of the apparent lack of support the people of Hama have felt from America, I felt incapable, unable to speak to her. I had so many questions circling in my mind — How’s your family? How has your life changed? Are you well fed? Do you need anything? What can I do to help? I wanted to say I was sorry for making them feel alone- for not being there with them- for not standing up for them.

It will haunt me forever that I didn’t have the courage to speak, to ask her those questions, She opened up a spot for me, extended her prayer mat and shared it with me, and I didn’t ask. I shook her hand, told her have a safe trip home, and left. Have a safe trip home? Really? That’s all I could think of? What about when she got home? The question was, would she be safe after she got home?

Hama, 2011

The people of Hama have suffered a brutal history, one that has come back to life again. While we check our facebook notifications, tweets, and text messages, Hama is reliving its greatest nightmare come to life once again, and the reality has expanded beyond the confines of their city. Dar’a, Homs, Deir Ezzor, Zabadani, and even parts of Damascus…the list is endless. We live in a global village. We live inside the internet with all the information at our finger tips. Ignorance isn’t an excuse for inaction and so I ask, what are we doing? Think about the people of Hama. When you see the names of the cities And the pages and pages of the lists of names of those who have fallen, read them, one by one. Think of them often. Pray for Hama. Pray for justice and peace.

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