A question to the West, after almost seven days of relentless bombing, Eastern Ghouta has not yet seen the light, protests are happening, advocacy campaigns have been launched, but nothing has yet changed.
“This war could have been settled a long time ago”, as Om Mohammad was finishing her sentence, the sound of ambulances was approaching: “I will have to call you back” she concludes. She is no media activist, just another woman trying to protect her family in a besieged area.
Pictures circulating online portraying the daily struggles of first aid responders, hospitals and doctors going out of their way to save lives yet collapsing in the middle of the emergency room because it’s all too much, civilians documenting their stories on Facebook, and women talking about the best five minutes of peace they felt in months, when they could actually enjoy the sun before another Russian jet plane blocks it.
“The guilt eats you up” – When asked what’s the best thing people could do to help, most of the Media activists inside Eastern Ghouta would ask you to pray, and you would have to nod, even if you haven’t prayed in years.
But women who have not been that present in the scene of Eastern Ghouta throughout the past years and month are now speaking out. Women are posting stories on Facebook and social media, urging the world to react, describing what it’s like to live in an underground shelter for days. In a city that is known to be conservative, could these women lead the change and stop the death tolls from rising? The logical answer would likely be No, because their voices are not being heard, why though?
Ward Mardini from Eastern Ghouta wrote:
We are now hiding in a corner at our house,
We laid down some duvets and covers on the floor, we’re telling our kids few fairytale stories to help them fall asleep .. to ease their minds and trigger their dreams in the midst of the ongoing bombing, airstrikes and shelling, they finally fell asleep,
They are still shaking, even with their eyes closed
My child is groaning in my arms… he is so tired..
His heart is tired .. My other child is sleeping peacefully like an angle,
His face is my only safe shelter and haven these days, it helps me forget what I am going through.
And on the other side of the screen, some women are mad and have a lot to say about the revolution that is no longer that appealing to the West, it is why, no one is listening, some say:
“I am working, I have been working and editing for 15 hours and it all feels like non sense” – Says a Syrian friend-Journalist in another heart to heart conversation late at night. I couldn’t help but ask her: “What do you mean by non sense?”
She adds: “Listen, I am going to say one thing, we are stupid! We allowed them to control us and our minds, we fell deep down into the -rabbit-hole- … Al-Asaad raised us, this regime raised us, we grew up, mind, body and soul listening and rarely questioning, yet all of a sudden, we felt ready for change? A change this big requires a lot more, I don’t think that we were ready, and no one is doing anything in a different way, this revolution is no longer appealing to the West due to many facts, that is why we are left alone”.
“It’s been 8 years!” – She adds, “8 years ! And yet you can’t manage to have more than 50 people abroad protesting for the civilians in Eastern Ghouta?” – I knew right there and then that I, Luna, could never answer her question, for who am I to judge? Sometimes I myself hesitate to attend pro-revolution protests in Lebanon, the stakes are too high, sometimes the timing is just not right, but this time I was here to listen and she resumed:
“I wonder, why do we keep repeating the same slogans: “Oh God, help us, we only have you, Arabs, fear God” – What kind of demands are we laying on the ground? We keep calling God, talking to God, asking God for mercy, our slogans have been the same for years, how do we expect to make an impact? GOD is now a scary word to the West, terrorists shout “Allah Akbar” before mass shootings or suicide attacks, you see, I think that the majority of the West can’t differentiate anymore, that’s why today, Eastern Ghouta is labeled.”
My anonymous friend believes that Syrians have been dragged into a trap, she has been Pro-revolution since day one, but seeing how things are shaping up turned her into an angry, disappointed and scared woman, I was very triggered to mention the conspiracy theories which we usually make fun of on Twitter, but this time, the conversation was real, and I was in no place to make jokes:
“The revolution had a great start, we were all way too excited, you know when they say, something is too good to be true? That’s how we all felt in the first months, but then everyone got involved, Al-Jolani, Al-Mhaisini, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Al-Baghdadi, brigades called “Descendants of the Apostle”, Al-Islam army, and then weapons spread, and yet we still wonder why the West is not supporting us?”
How does the West perceive Al-Ghouta?
Thinking about the West: is it scared of Al-Ghouta who’s image has been portrayed as an Islamic Hub? The videos spreading from that area are mostly concluded by “Allah Akbar”، but wait, is that the West’s only indicator?
When people are scared and face death, they are most likely to lean towards something that calms them down. In a city located in the heart of Syria, and yet known to be a more religious then others, one can understand the civilians’ choice in turning to religion for psychological safety. This argument has been used for years to answer one question: What do you turn to / think about when scared? Religion had always been a part of that conversation, but when did it become an indicator of terrorism?
Yet, my Anonymous friend thinks that this was what portrayed Al-Ghouta as an extremist hub, and it’s a comment that is often present in conversations and discussions about Eastern Ghouta.
“The West’s governments are shallow, they want a pretty looking blond face, they want women in mini skirts demanding freedom, but a woman wearing a Hijab has the right to demand freedom as well, I don’t understand how this became an indicator of extremism” – She asks.
Indeed the majority of the West’s politicians suffer from Islamophobia – and some Arab countries and residents as well- the West is only triggered enough when someone breaks the stereotype, that’s when the media picks up a story, and it’s what Ahed Al-Tamimi did, she broke the stereotype of the “regular Palestinian woman” present in the West’s mind. Ahed is blond, furious, does not wear a Hijab, she touched soldiers and pushed them away, she gave men the middle finger. To the West: she was not your regular Palestinian woman.
Had women in Al-Ghouta not worn Hijab, could this have convinced the West, that Al-Ghouta is not a hub for Islamists? If a group of women wore mini skirts and marched the streets of Al-Ghouta now, holding banners shouting for peace, would this be more appealing to the West? Would the UN react? Would people stop labeling that area as “The hub of terrorism”?
To conclude, there is no difference between Hitler’s adopted solution in his Nazi camps and what Bashar Al- Assad and his allies are doing to Eastern Ghouta today, they turned an Anti-Regime area into a massive extermination camp.
In Hitler’s era, concentration camps were an integral part of Nazi Germany between the years 1933 and 1945.
Hitler’s belief that Caucasian blond hair, blue-eyed Germans were superior to all other races drove him to execute Jews based on their looks.
In his mind, Jews were a very tainted race, which caused him to target this group more than any others. In the era of Al-Asaad, his indicator of terrorism is slowly becoming vailed women and men with beards, and the West is observing reluctant to do anything about it, because this revolution is no longer appealing to them.