Allah (God), Syria (our Country), Bashar..........
Trip Start Sep 28, 2010
86Trip End Ongoing
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After two weeks away it seemed that nothing much had changed in Damascus. Everyone’s going about their daily business, there are just as many traders on the streets selling everything under the sun, the roads are just as chaotic and the people are just as friendly, generous and reassuring
The only change we note is that of a new or perhaps dormant industry that has emerged overnight. A legitimate passion or a propaganda machine I am not sure, but every available space on the street has become a dedicated promotional outlet for flags and hats in the colours of the country and banners, car decals and posters displaying pictures of the president in any number of different poses. Some show him as the tough guy in military attire with dark shades while others show the softer side…..the people’s man, waving to the crowd or spending time with family. Every shop, home and business has a picture of Bashar in the front window now. His image is forever burned into our brains. But surely this instant passion for the President seems a little false, a little bit over-enthusiastic....?
We hadn't heard talk of any form of rally occurring in Damascus so we were a little alarmed to be woken yesterday morning (Tuesday) by the sounds of chanting in the streets and the thud, thud, thud of a military helicopter overhead
When I asked the hotel manager what was happening, she smiled and reassured me that everything is fine….."The people on the streets are celebrating our president.”
To a familiar rhythm of Together, United, We’ll never be defeated, possibly 100,000 men women and children chanted "Allah (God), Syrie (Syria), Bashar (The President) is all we ask!” The numbers of people grew as the day went on, a palpable excitement was in the air. The helicopters were filming the crowds and broadcasting to state television. Everytime they flew over the crowds would cheer loudly. The chanting continued and could be heard all over the city. People who couldn't join the main parade would stage their own mini version down the main street of the souk. As far as we know there was no violence in Damascus yesterday, but we were still uneasy. All day long we had listened to the chant about Allah and Bashar. It just didn't seem right to be equating the country's president with God. Did people really believe this....?
In our time in Syria we never actually saw a protest