WRITTEN BY ASMAE SIRIA DACHAN, translated by Mary Rizzo
20 July 2012, 1 Ramadan 1433. Today is the beginning, for millions of Muslims the world over, of the month of Ramadan, considered by the faithful as a moment of sincere devotion, of purification and of prayer and it is for this reason welcomed with great celebration. It is one of the acts of faith that creates the greatest amount of gathering together, with families who reunite, sharing their meals at sunset even in the places of worship. Visits to the sick, as well as to friends and relatives increase in this period precisely to reinforce the connections between people and to mend any possible fractures that may have occurred.
Ramadan has a social meaning, as well as the religious one, so much so that it is felt even among persons who are generally less observant, because it expresses that sense of sacrifice, surrender, purification and rebirth that gives one hope. It is a light that shines at the end of the tunnel… even when the tunnel is long and it takes months and months to get to the other side of it. Just like the tunnel from which we see emerging, with great human sacrifices and an unmatchable commitment, the Syrian people, who find themselves welcoming Ramadan, for the second consecutive year, under the bombardment of the regime. The picture above refers to last year: Sawret al karamah, the “Revolt of Dignity”, had been started at that time already for four months by a group of young protesters, who wrote in candles: “Welcome Ramadan, Get out Bashar”. Perhaps no one could have predicted such a lengthy repression, which has already exceeded sixteen months, causing more than 19 thousand victims, among them, at least 1,400 children. The most recent veto of China and Russia has left the Syrian people feeling indifferent, who by now know that the International Community will not give them any real support, the contrary is true: the halting character of the world only reinforces the murderous folly of the regime, which has made its offensive even more brutal, and one once again we are hearing talk of the use of chemical weapons.
I say “once again” because it has already been months that the doctors of Baba Amr, the long-suffering neighbourhood of the old city of Homs, have denounced the use of white phosphorus, documenting irreversible damage provoked by its use.
Even the “Neighbours”, the Arab nations that are considered as “Sisters”, are enacting a policy of indifference regarding the humanitarian tragedy that is striking the civilians, even going so far as rejecting the entrance of refugees, pushing them back and treating them inhumanely, as the humanitarian associations have been stating.
It is such a sad Ramadan, the one that is beginning, which only this Thursday, on the first night of the vigil, has been grieving the deaths of over 280 persons killed, slaughtered in various locations in the suburbs of Damascus and in the Homs Province. Many Syrians who live abroad, even here in Italy, were used to spending Ramadan with their loved ones, returning to Syria or perhaps inviting their parents or grandparents to come here. Today the repression prohibits Syrians from living that very “normality”, forcing them into atrocious suffering, wounded by the loss of relatives, friends and acquaintances, for the destruction of homes, entire neighbourhoods and yes… entire cities… and especially for the wounds caused by the indifference of the world. It might sound like a paradox, but giving strength to those Syrians outside the homeland, telling them to not give up, to smile and to trust God with even greater force, as well as to have more belief in themselves, are actually those Syrians who are living under the repression, who yesterday by means of internet found a way to give the world their greetings for Ramadan, expressing the prayer that the Ramadan of 2013-1434 will be a different Ramadan, in which the Syrians will be rebuilding everything that the regime has destroyed, finally finding the longed-for peace and freedom.