That we cannot freely and entirely express ourselves here is a well-known fact of life. However, when mushrooming zealots seek to stifle freedom of expression and rowdily promote a fake carbon copy of a traditional and devoutly pious Syria, one which had never existed, it is high time I lash back. On the popular level, their extraneous brand of petro-Islam was sanctioned by an innate feeling of resentment and bitterness toward the dark years of the Bush administration and the whorish demeanor of Israel. Our religiously driven addicts took advantage of the prevailing frustration and sense of helplessness and earnestly pursued their social and political assumptions and ambitions, which incidentally nestle perfectly within the neo-cons' and the Zionist overall master plan for this region and the rest of the world. The writings were all over the wall and if left unchecked they would stop at nothing short of transforming Syria into a mutated Saudi mongrel.
There are over twenty-two millions of us Syrians as per latest available statistics, thanks to a government that continuously looks the other way, if not encourages us to breed like rabbits, and to an ecclesiastical gang-raping of native Levantine culture. In 1977, when I took my Bakaloria exam, the population of Syria was around eight millions. We have increased by a whopping 275% in 32 years, we have reduced green and forested areas to a third and we have decimated the chances of younger generations to find and pursue a better future. Being alienated from a West that treats them with suspicion and lured by a well-funded canonical machine our youth have but a limited number of options to choose from. Slowly but surely a bony temperament, buried in an alien and dusty past, beckons as a viable lifestyle.
My daughter is in 9th grade. This is a very significant point in the lives of fifteen-year-old Syrian students as they have to take a national exam (Brevet) which affects their academic fate. Excellence is measured by how much they remember word by word of the archaic curriculum. They are discouraged from making decisions or voicing opinions. Our educational system emphasizes total subservience and uniformity and represses creativity and divergence. Among the various subjects they have to memorize by rote, two in particular stand out for not only negating one another thus making them a total waste of time, but for being absolutely absurd as instruments to measure scholastic attainment. Teenagers, the age of budding roses, carry the dual burden of "learning" National Socialist Education and Religious Education (Muslim or Christian). "Scientific thought defeats ignorance and outdated traditions, frees us from all forms of awkwardness: Economic, social and cultural and rids us of illogical and indisputable bigotry.” Quite a brilliant quote from the National Socialist Education book, isn't it? Then how about these gems taken from the introduction of the Islamic Education textbook about the purpose of the course: “The presentation of scientific material in a simple manner and detailed explanation in order for students to memorize it... Relying on scientific sources in order to prove the selected scientific material.” Our children are being taught the value of the scientific method by failed national socialists and science by a moronic clergy.
Nonsense and idiocy are riddling our daily existence and I have never been blind to them. Every once in a while when I feel overwhelmed by the obnoxiousness of the emerging literate crowd I strike back. This is the voice of a secular humanist from Tartous, a simple man walking the once enlightened and bustling street, turned silent and bereft in these times of parasitic noise and groveling babble. This blog is about my Syria, the way it was and the way I want it to be. I will continue to write about the good life and the delicious food of the Levant, the rich history and the swaying butts of our gorgeous women, the music, the mountains and the sea of a Syria that is far too modest to flaunt her beauty for the rest of the world to see. A princess once told me (Yes, there is a princess among my readers) that if it were not for me she would have never heard of Tartous. If that is all I have done in four years, I am satisfied that I have done enough. There still is plenty to come from this old tartoussi troubadour in the times ahead. Just stay tuned, Your Highness... and the rest of you.