Friday, July 8, 2011
The Voice Of Hama
By Husam Itani
His voice sounded troubled and deep in the videos posted on internet websites. He would be singing, chanting or yelling slogans, of which he had invented some and gathered others from among those that had been raised by protesters in Hama, Homs, Daraa and others.
His voice had not been through the filters of chorus, vocals and solfège. It was a voice in the rough – a raw, strong voice, like the voices of construction workers or street vendors in the markets of the poor. His words, by summing up the complexities of political stances and simplifying demands to the extent of rendering them evident, take the form of a lesson in national belonging that requires no sophisms or explanations: freedom for everyone. Tyranny is headed towards oblivion, and corruption towards the end that it deserves. The major figures of the regime have suddenly been stripped, by his melodic voice in the nights of Hama and in its days, of the terror they used to project with their giant pictures on the facades of buildings and their statues in squares and at crossroads, becoming creatures that arouse sarcasm by their weakness and their flaws. The symbols have fallen.
Hundreds of thousands chanted, repeating, laughing and applauding words that seemed as if they were emerging from all of their throats. It is a is if he, Ibrahim Qashush, had become – when history mentions Syria and Hama – the voice of that single creature unifying the protesting natives of Hama, Syria and the Arab world who reject oppression, repression, torture, secret prisons and kidnappings – and reject regimes that do nothing but promote illusions with which they cover their eternal, stifling control of human beings who ask only for freedom and dignity.
This creature, which brings together Syria’s protesters, had found its voice in Ibrahim, who toyed with the symbolic figures of the regime, stripped them naked and mocked them, with words coming out of the hearts of ordinary Syrian people – without embellishment, without verbosity; the naked truth in simple terms.
Those who killed him realized how dangerous what Ibrahim did was. And they knew full well how momentous the step he took, by destroying the symbols of fear and terror, was. And doubtless they also understood the meaning of turning mocking the regime into words that emerged from Ibrahim’s throat with the ease in which one produces songs of love and loss.
Spontaneity and eloquence are two elements that frighten any tyranny when they stand against it. And Ibrahim Qashush was the living embodiment of spontaneity that was nearly tangible and of eloquence that could not be restrained or silenced. Killing him in this brutal manner was thus the only response those criminals could find to make up for the terror he aroused in their hearts, making him and his fate the source of fear and fright for all those who once applauded the young man with the thundering voice in Al-Assi Square in Hama.
It was only “logical” for the attempt to restore fear to come through killing Ibrahim, coinciding with an attempt to regain control at the security level and to cut off water and electricity from the city which for a few weeks had tasted freedom. Indeed, doing away with the symbol and the voice of the uprising is as important as deploying death squads in the streets, and that is something all men of “security” in the world know, and it is part of the expertise they share among themselves.
Yet, and without downplaying the importance of Ibrahim’s personal tragedy and the terrible suffering he went through at the hands of his torturers, or that of what Hama is enduring these days, it is possible to assert with certainty that the murder of Ibrahim Qashush, like all the steps of oppression and “reform” being taken by the regime in Damascus, has come too late and has been devoid of impact. In addition to this, this and other murders will not make Syrians renounce the demands chanted by their martyr Ibrahim in his simple words: “Syria wants freedom”.
This commentary was published in al-Hayat on 07/07/2011