The Syrian bloodshed is still continuing in Syria, and the daily death toll is rarely below hundreds, but, what’s New? Let us admit that we are now quickly going through news from Syria.
The monotony of the events and the Syrian death toll are sometimes breached by other news and photos such as those that are posted by our friends on Facebook. But the blackout that disallowed TV channels from broadcasting what is happening in Syria, only shock us and remind us that what is happening in Syria is not an ordinary story.
I remember a picture of a Syrian man sitting on a plastic chair near a wall in one of Houla’s streets; the man’s face was blown-up and what was left was dangling down from his body. Most probably, a sniper had shot him as he was sitting on his chair, leaving him dead on his chair.
Sadly, this kind of pictures no longer moves us.
But why did interest in news from Syria fade away despite all that bloodshed and the high death toll, and what made Egypt’s Revolution more interesting for the Arab and international media?
The debates between activists and the non-Egyptians who are interested in the Egyptian affairs raged on social networking sites. It has even become a controversial issue that also preoccupied the Syrians; thereby slightly distracting them from their tragedy, or most probably, it represented some sort of anticipation for a future debate in Syria after the fall of the regime.
The Egyptians were angered by the domination of the Muslim Brotherhood, whom they deemed as worse than the one that was overthrown by the revolution less than two years ago. The confrontation between Islamists (the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters the, Salafists) and “foreign Egyptians” represented by the civil and liberal currents seemed to be the basis of the equation after the revolution.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s attachment to so called “democratic” slogan is their mean to reach and seize the power. Their supporters preached about their leader and president as “God’s” spokespersons ... The size of the mistakes that they made was nothing but a new indicator for their inflexibility and inability to loosen their zealous support to the Muslim Brotherhood to create more of a democratic state.
What is new about this issue is the spread of this zealously to many others that are supposed to be more knowledgeable and experienced than the narrow circles of the Muslim Brotherhood back when the group was a banned and persecuted organization.
Anyone who reads the discussions on Twitter and Facebook about the developments in Egypt can feel how the Egyptian scene has casted it shadow on the changes in Syria and a little less in Tunisia, Yemen and Libya. The debate went from being about the revolutions overthrowing the dictatorship and reaching freedom, and became a debate about the confrontations between political Islam current against liberal civil ones.
This debate included the Syrian revolution issue without making it the main issue. Despite the great overstatement of the groups such as the “victory front of the Syrian people,” the Syrian Islamist revolution remains weak in comparison to what is happening in Egypt and Tunisia. If the priority in Egypt today is to overthrow religious despotism, it is therefore unfair to disregard the blood that was shed in Syria to overthrow the Baathist tyranny and consume energy in a purposeless discussion about religion and identity.
(Diana Moukalled is a writer for Asharq Al-Awsat where this article was published on Dec. 13, 2012)