Pacing Myself in a High Pace City
Trip Start May 09, 2007
23Trip End Jul 03, 2007
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Is what I would be saying if I were crazy lol
Last night I did some laundry and while I was waiting downstairs for my clothes to dry I got to a talking to another study abroad student, Soubhi. He's not your typical study abroad student though, he's in his late 40's and lived in Syria for 20yrs. Then he moved to the states, and now has decided he wanted to change his career and has gone back to school. Again I found myself discussed world politics and it was especially insightful to hear it coming from a guy who's lived under a brutal regime of the same influence (and political adherence) as Saddam Hussein. Specifically I brought up the Hama massacre that took place in the 1980's. The current "president" Bashir Assad's father was the "president" (for life) at the time and a Islamicist group called the Muslim Brotherhood was gaining support in the third largest city in Syria called Hama. The way Assad responded to this political dissent was he surrounded the city, blocked everyone in, men, women, and children and the army completely wiped the city off the map, literally. Soubhi's friend's sister was living in the city at the time and he told me how he had to sneak in there and get his sister out, as the city was being shelled. Only days later some 30,000 people were killed and the city was leveled entirely, entombing many of the bodies of the victims. Official estimates don't exist, but some say it could have been as high as 40,000 dead.
Needless to say, discussing politics with someone who's been through situations like that is incredibly interesting. Which leads me to another funny point. It hilarious what the American media passes off for news these days. Each and every day you can turn on any news channel and you'll see stories of violence and tales of the growing "sectarian divide" amongst all Muslims. If you believe what the media reports, you would think that Iraq is the number one issue on every Arabs mind. Heck, I was even watching Al-Jazeera the other day and even they don't dwell on what happening as much in Iraq as our media. The so-called "Terrorist mouthpiece" news station was doing segments on the US sailing team and events that spanned the globe. I've spoken with people from all walks of life here, from Iraqis to Saudis to Pakistanis to Lebanese, from Taxi drivers to bankers to students to waiters and there seems to be a similar consensus. Now regardless of your political beliefs I'm just telling you what I've heard from various sources, most of them are happy that Saddam was taking out of power, many of them realize that violence occurs after any brutal dictatorship is overthrown and absolutely none of them believe that the US is looking to "colonize" the Middle East. Much of the sentiment grows from their personal experiences as well, like this Palestinian-Lebanese person I was talking to. Her family was driven from Lebanon during the Civil War, she is a Shiite from Southern Lebanon (A predominantly Shiite region and stronghold of Hezbollah support <-- Hezbollah being a shiite organization that helps out the community like a mini-Red Cross, but they are also fighting Israel and the Lebanese government). We are lead to believe that people in this region fall directly in line with their heritage, Sunnis support only Sunnis, Shiite support all Shiite and everyone hates Israel. But as she put it, she hates Hezbollah they are the reason for the instability in her country and they are the reason she can't live where her family has for generations. This past summer when Israel invaded Lebanon in an attempt to break Hezbollahs grip on the region, her aunt had a rocket land in her backyard destroying her brand new pool. She didn't blame Israel, she was angry with Hezbollah for starting the whole situation. People are sensible here, we tend to "other" them as beings who think in ways we can't fathom, when in reality they are just as reasonable as you or I.