Critical Responses to Oz Media Reports and ‘Discussions’ on Syria

The necessity for on-going critical discussions regarding what is occurring in Syria is something must people in Australia would accept. Yet, too often the assumption behind any news report on Syria, interview or discussion is the same: ‘a brutal dictator is oppressing his people’.  It is a supremely comfortable view to hold …. from a distance.  However, it belies the experience of millions of Syrians. And their views, their lives and their futures should be considered in the discussion.  On this page, I will attempt to present efforts for a serious debate on Syria.

1. The Syrian mosaic,  ABC Radio National Encounter

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/encounter/the-syrian-mosaic/3855496

Comment posted to Encounter page on 2 April 2012.

It is good to hear a variety of voices and views expressed here; however, I do think it is a great pity there wasn’t a discussion between the interviewees because some of what is said should be challenged.

For example, Father Paulo (someone I interviewed in 2009 http://pool.abc.net.au/media/perennial-questions )may ‘speak with a certain authority’ but he should not replace the voices of Syrians. They are the people who face terror and an uncertain future (http://pool.abc.net.au/media/fear-and-horror-syria-one-persons-account) I see them interviewed on Syrian TV most days and believe their views and fears are being ignored generally. Their faces and to some extent voices and views are recorded here http://australiansforsyria.wordpress.com/

Mohammad al Famwi is a Syrian in Australia who says “We’ll die or get our freedom” and “there’s no dialogue with a criminal”. Who is he representing? No Syrian Australian I know. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eS2bM0ruWSo ) What is his ‘ideology’, his beliefs or platform? Do they go beyond the cliche, “Freedom”? And how many people will be killed to gain his and his comrades’ version of ‘freedom’? What do the modern women of Syria think of his version of ‘freedom’ from a secular society?

Marialaura Conte says Damascus and Aleppo..”remain solidly in the hands of the central government”. What is the implication of this? Does it mean that a majority of Syrians support peaceful reform, stability and security and do not support the armed ‘rebellion’ or outside interference? When it is expressed like that, it makes sense. What population wouldn’t?! I met hundreds of Syrians in the classrooms of the British Council in Damascus and overall they struck me as eminently sensible and politically sophisticated people.

Dawn Chatty suggests the people of Homs are ‘brave’ to stand up to the government. But this denies the terror, suffering and complexity of the fighting in Homs. (For the story of a brave man in Homs and a victim of the militia, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3z3Nnvlye4&feature=related ) Human Rights Watch finally responded to the terror faced by Syrians in their recent ‘letter to the opposition’. (http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/03/20/open-letter-leaders-syrian-opposition ) It requires some work to ascertain what really went on in Homs. An analyst such as Alastair Crooke can help. (http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NC09Ak03.html ) In regard to the Bedouins of Syria, all the tribal leaders have expressed support for the government and have condemned outside interference.
 
There is so much more that can be said. Let’s hope the Syrian people in Syria can say it and the world listens. Hilal Khashan fails to mention in his reference to Al-Jazeera that it gives a regular platform to the extremist cleric, Qaradawi. Robert Bekhazi’s point about Qaradawi’s call to kill (“it’s ok for 30% of the Syrian population to die”) in order to topple the Syrian government mustn’t be lost in the chatter of outsiders who will never experience the consequences of such calls, not in regard to Syria, at least.

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