Thursday, May 17, 2012

Syrian revolutionary culture

From Layla Al-Zubaidi, writing in the London Review of Books:

Since the uprising began, every village has come up with its own dabke, a traditional dance in which the dancers, their hands locked together, move in a circle and stamp their feet to the beat of a drum. Every funeral is turned into a protest procession. Among the most common funeral chants is a song written by Ibrahim Qashoush, a singer from Hama, called ‘Yallah irhal ya Bashar!’ (‘Get out, Bashar!’). When Qashoush was found last summer with his throat slit and vocal cords ripped out, the song became the movement’s soundtrack. It even made its way to Avenue Bourguiba in Tunis, where crowds sang it on the anniversary of their own revolution. It became such a phenomenon that the authorities pirated it. Schoolchildren were given it to sing, but with the lyrics altered: ‘Nahna rijalak ya Bashar!’ (‘We are your people, Bashar!’). Abbas said it was because they are afraid of the song: ‘They use it like a voodoo puppet. They think that if they appropriate the symbols of the revolution, they can tame its spell.’

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