Assad, Face-to-Face With His Victims: The Hollowness Of Which The Cameras Failed To Hide
20 March 2014
By Diana Moukalled
The grandmother pulled the hand of the crying little
girl who stood staring in front of Syrian President
Bashar Al-Assad. We heard the girl say she did not
know anything about the fate of her mother and
siblings as she wept. We did not know who the little
girl was, who her family were, or how she lost them.
Some inaudible words were exchanged and the scene
ended there to the sound of a song with the lyrics:
"Put your hand in my hand, I will not abandon you even
if they slit my throat."
What irony, for the official Syrian TV to choose a
song about the love for their president, which linked
love and loyalty to the slitting of throats.
The song played for several long and unbearable
minutes, accompanying Assad's visit to refugees from
Adra. He visited them in a public appearance which was
described as "rare," and which followed his offensive
announcement that he deserved to run for another term.
Those who have been shocked by the scenes of violence,
murder and bloodshed from Syria in recent years, and
regard them as a true and honest portrayal of the
meaning of pain and horror, may need to expand the
scope of the definition of cruelty and its
After three years of Syrian violence, we now stand
before scenes of a dramatic climax of the tragedy,
which is the moment the murderer meets his victims.
The scenes of the daily Syrian slaughter, especially
those which brought the murderers together with their
victims, were dominated by intense feelings of
violence. The victim would be begging or crying, or
writhing in pain, or taking their last breath, while
the murderer did not bother to hide their identity,
and carries out their crimes without hesitation.
Assad's meeting the dozens of refugees was such a
But this moment can be interpreted differently. An
interpretation which the many cameras that were eager
to show the choreographed gazes of the compassionate
president and convey his every loving gesture could
not hide. There were stifled sentiments which
accompanied the visit of the Syrian president to his
victims at the refugee camp.
When the president talks to a tearful lady begging for
her husband to be found, we can only imagine the
hidden words in that chat, and the answer is: "Be
thankful I did not kill you with him." Or when he
tapped the shoulder of a young boy sitting with a
group of children, it was as if he was saying: "How
did you escape my barrel bombs little one? Next time I
will make sure my aim is more accurate."
The refugees gathered around the president chanting,
"With our souls, with our blood," and rushed to meet
him. He carried on with his smiles and hollow gazes,
the hollowness of which the cameras failed to hide.
There is no doubt that the Syrian revolution has
succeeded in creating images that no other revolution
had managed before. However, in contrast, the Syrian
regime has succeeded in diluting the impact of these
images by casting doubts on them, and saying they were
fabricated and false.
The meeting of Assad with the refugees is the other
side of that image; the meeting of a caring president
with a people displaced by "insurgents." Do you
believe Assad truly cares?
This is exactly what the makers of that film think we
will infer, just as the regime thinks we will believe
that the killers of the Syrian people are the
Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected
TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her
phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked
Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas
and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and
satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a
veteran war correspondent, having covered both the
wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the
Isreali "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern
Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained world wide
recognition and was named one of the most influential
women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine