War, as well as its foul consequences, becomes a part of life. Some people regard it as more logical to ignore the matter than to feel pity and seek a solution. Logic takes precedence over conscience. Logic says that the basic aim must be to lead a comfortable life. Causes, aims and spiritual and nationalist feelings take a backseat.
In these days of global insensitivity to the Syrian war, the picture within the country is astonishing. The other face of Syria we see in terms of bodies of infants getting pulled out of the rubble, death throes of children exposed to chemical weapons or cities devastated by barrel bombing, is actually very different than the one we are familiar with.
Homs, Tartus, Latakia and parts of Aleppo and Damascus under the control of the regime are literally ignoring the pitiless sounds and bloody face of war. The sounds of warplanes and bombs no longer stir any interest in the people of the region. As the columnist Zach Noble writes, they literally represent the background soundtrack of Damascus. The fact that that warplane will attack a village in a few minutes’ time is of no concern to most people. Daily life continues pretty calmly for people used to the noise of bombs. Cafeterias and some places of entertainment in these cities begin filling up in the evening. Nightlife remains active until 2 am.
While people just a few kilometers away cannot find doctors and hospitals to have their wounds dressed, cosmetics fairs attract considerable attention from women particularly in areas under the regime’s control. Car races with professional racers and motor sports fans from Lebanon, Jordan and Syria attract enormous interest.
A wedding takes place almost every evening in a famous hotel in Damascus. Singers entertain guests out on the terrace every night.
According to Joshua Landis, director of Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, Assad’s strategy is to bomb areas held by the opposition and wreck their economies while keeping the economy in regions under his own control sound. Just as Assad planned, people are abandoning regions under the opposition’s control. Middle and upper class Syrians in particular appear to be supporting the regime out of fear over what may happen in the future and are flooding into regime-held areas.
With the opposition unfurling its own flags, there has been a major rise in sensitivity toward the flag in regime-held areas, too. At the command of the regime, pavements, shop fronts and streets are all painted in its colors, red, black and white. The streets are filled with posters of Assad the soldier, Assad the businessman and Assad the father. A second name often to be seen behind Assad on such posters is that of the Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah.
Let us remind ourselves that Guta, which came to prominence through chemical gas attacks, is a southern suburb of Damascus. Duma, where civilians in a market were ruthlessly slaughtered recently, is only 10 km from Damascus. It was the regime’s forces that carried out both the massacres. While people just a few kilometers away were going to nightclubs, beaches and cafes, the bodies of innocent children were being pulled from the rubble there. This all happened in one place, in the capital, Damascus.
Of course, nobody can be condemned for choosing to save his life, have fun, take part in artistic activities and go to beaches. We know that many people have sought refuge in these regions because they are in danger. The aim of this piece is not to condemn such otherwise healthy activities, but the insensitivity that war causes. Of course, a person can have fun, but while so doing it is a crime to remain insensitive to the ruthless killing of his own brother or neighbor. Someone who ignores that and seeks only his own comfort is committing a crime; because Allah has shown us that this world is not a place of ease but one of testing in which we are expected to behave virtuously. He is guilty, because he does not think he will be held to account in the presence of Allah for living without a cause or any zeal while innocent people are being killed. But does that mean he should pick up a gun and leap into the fray?
Of course, not. The most effective war is a scientific and philosophical one waged against deviant ideologies. And everyone can do that, in one way or another.
So is it only that part of the Syrian people who benefit from the opportunities provided by the regime who should be accused of insensitivity?
Of course, not. The war in Syria is of just as much concern to the people of other countries as it is to the people of Syria. If people in a country are being slaughtered, children suffocated by poisonous gases and barrel bombs being dropped on the innocent, and they fled this oppression are met with rage in some other countries, is that not of concern to all mankind?
However, not all people are the same; some smother their consciences, some just want to live and others are ruthless. But many people know that Allah is sending them a message through the ghastly picture they see. War strengthens their love for the defenseless, their sensitivity, their consciences and their desire for peace. We hope that these wars will reinforce people’s sensitivity, so that the resulting power of conscience and determination can put an end to the fighting.
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The 68th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China.
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