I Love My City Damascus

View from 4 Seasons Hotel in Damascus

News from Damascus are always depressing nowadays. But it used to be a vibrant city, full of life. When I lived there last year the fear of the war was present in the city, but here are the words of a young woman from Damascus and how her life used to be before the war.

“I grew up in Damascus and when we went to visit the village my parents came from, I just wanted to go back home. My parents’ village is beautiful, green and with fresh air, but it’s not like the city. In Damascus I had everything; freedom and friends.

Summers were the best. My cousin was older and worked in Saudi Arabia and used to come home for vacation in the summers. She got divorced and when she came home she wanted to have a good time, to live a free life, a life she couldn’t live over there. When she was in Damascus I packed a bag with all my stuff and moved in with her. She rented a flat downtown and I stayed with her there all summer. My family was angry with me for moving out from them, they thought my cousin had bad influence on me, but there was nothing they could do. I had become so independent from them since I started working and making my own money.

Me and my cousin never cooked, we just ordered take out to the house or went to restaurants. We went to the swimming pools somewhere in the city and ordered sheesha. In the evenings we went clubbing, there were many nightclubs to go to, and there were always a lot of guys after us. We had a good time with them, we let them pay for everything, then when we got bored with them we just hopped in a taxi and left” (she shows how they teasingly waved goodbye from the car window while laughing) “We never talked politics back then. She supported the president, she thought it was because of Bashar al Assad that she could live a free life in Syria comparing to the life she had as a divorced woman in Saudi Arabia. I was against Assad, just like my father was, but me and my cousin never spoke about it. We just had a great time together. I loved my city.”

Photo: Copyright Sweden and the Middle East Views Blog

Umayyad Mosque, Damascus

mosque 1

Umayyad Mosque in the heart of Damacus old city, an ancient building completed in year 715. Photos are taken during a Friday evening in June 2013.

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Also an excellent place to spend a Friday night at, for prayers and socializing. Or a playground, with it’s shiny floor perfect for sliding on…

mosque 3

Let’s hope it will remain throughout the war.

Photos: Copyright Sweden and the Middle East Views Blog

Aleppo Screams S.O.S.

Aleppo Screams SoS pic

So now the world is discussing whether the international community should intervene in Syria after the latest chemical attacks that the regime brought on its people. I can’t launch a clear opinion in this issue, because I’m not sure an international military intervention would bring less suffering to the Syrian people – but assistance of some kind seems to be needed since the revolt has escalated into civil war, with human rights abuses reported from both sides. But what the world show know is, many of the Syrian people have been asking for help for a long time, before the conflict steered towards total chaos.

The ancient city of Aleppo, once a beautiful green city in the northern part of the country, is now one of the most destroyed cities in the world. Eager to crack down on the uprising, the Syrian government has bombed the city to pieces, wiping out the infrastructure. Electricity and water is cut off, hospitals are functioning without the most basic needs, earlier this year 90% of all children of Aleppo were reported to be out of school – and the number can hardly have decreased. Below is  picture of Saif Aldowleh Avenue in Aleppo before the war started in 2011, shared with me by someone that wants to show the world what happened to his city.

And here is the same avenue, from a slightly different angle, today:

Do you think this might be expected when it’s a war somewhere? Then remember that the inner city of Damascus is still untouched, with schools and supermarkets open and a vivid nightlife still available for young people to party and attend karaoke nights, like nothing is happening in other parts of the country.

Desperate to make the world realize what is going on, a Facebookpage was started by some of the inhabitants of Aleppo in June 2012; Aleppo Screams SoS. Click on the link and have a look to see how the citizens of Aleppo were asking for help long before the most recent events, publishing photos on the ongoing destruction, photos of killed children, asking people to share. I hope the world will listen soon.

Photos: anonymous source, copyright Sweden and the Middle East Blog; Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/AleppoScreamsSos

Mr President, What’s Going on in Your Country?

In the suburbs of Damascus, children are gassed to death by chemical weapons, and the old city Aleppo is one of the most destroyed cities in the world, bombed by it’s own government. But in the heart of the capital the president is still holding up, selling propaganda material for you to put on your refrigerator door, as if nothing is happening.

President Bashar Al Assad on the top, and the flag of Syria.

The flag and the map of Syria edited in a heart, sentences stating things like: “I love Damascus”, “I love Hama” and, of course, “I love Bashar”.

Photos: Copyright Sweden and the Middle East Blog

“If someone asks you about what is happening in Syria tell him the humanity is died”

Today media has been flooded with the news that Syria has used chemical weapons in another one of their massacres of the citizens in Damascus suburbs, Eastern Ghouta. Some say victims counts in hundreds, others claim it’s over one thousand. Children suffocated to death after the and hospitals did not have enough resources to treat the overwhelming amount of victims rushed to the emergency rooms, where many more lives were lost, because what hospital can be prepared for a massacre?

I’m not posting the photos here but you can imagine what victims that has suffocated to death look like: frozen faces where panic and fear is still visible, mouth and eyes wide open.

It’s not the first time Syria has used chemical weapons on it’s citizens though. In March and April this year the Syrian government was accused of using chemical weapons in order to strike out the population. And in the 1980s the regime used the same kind of weapons to – effectively – crack down on the erstwhole uprising.

Today many of my friends Facebookpages were filled with sad and angry updates, and not of the regular kind. On one friends status, someone commented: “If someone asks you about what is happening in Syria tell him the humanity is died”