Rabat - Adnan Farazat is not only a brilliant writer and a journalist, but also an intellectual interested in the dialogue among civilizations. Adnan was born in Deir ez-Zor in Syria. But, due to his father’s working conditions, his family had to move from one city to the other in his beloved Syria. Little Adnan’s memories that are linked to these sites have become the main subject of his writings.
Rabat – Adnan Farazat is not only a brilliant writer and a journalist, but also an intellectual interested in the dialogue among civilizations. Adnan was born in Deir ez-Zor in Syria. But, due to his father’s working conditions, his family had to move from one city to the other in his beloved Syria. Little Adnan’s memories that are linked to these sites have become the main subject of his writings.
In mid-eighties, Adnan Farzat moved to Halab, where he studied Law and started his career as a journalist. At the beginning, he worked at “Al jamahir” local newspaper and became its chief editor whose articles were highly admired by readers. Adnan currently lives in Kuwait.
The poet Issam Tarchehani advised Adnan to publish his writings at “Al Bayan” newspaper that was published in UAE. This, in fact, was a very significant decision that changed his life, for it allowed his literary creativity to become widely known outside his homeland. He also started writing for “Sawt al-Kuwayt ad-Dawli”, a Kuwaiti newspaper that was launched in 1990 in many countries. Then he became a writer with “Al Qabas” newspaper. After that, he became the chief editor of the Syrian newspaper “Al Doumari” which was the first independent newspaper that was banned after forty years.
Later, Adnan Farazat was recruited by the foundation of Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain’s Prize for Poetic Creativity. Besides, he became a consultant for “Qotouf” magazine where he prepares a cultural folio called “Rawafid.” In addition, he worked as a secretary of edition of “Al Bayan” magazine that is published by the writers’ union.
Adnan Farzat has not only developed a brilliant career in writing and journalism, but he has worked at Radio and Television in the preparation of very important cultural programs as well, which has had very positive effects on the public. He has received many work proposals as a writer and journalist in different Gulf countries but he rejected them all and preferred to settle down in Kuwait.
Adnan has published several exceptional novels in which he discussed the situation in Syria in particular and Arab countries in general. It should be pointed out that these novels have become an added value to the Arab literature. Most of his novels reflect his obsessive attachment to Syria and its cities. They are also distinguished by their great eloquence and marvelous poetic language that make them addictive and enjoyable to the reader. All his novels such as “Jamr al-Nikayat” (Embers of Spites), “Ras al-Rajul al-kabir” (the Head of the Big Man), “Kana al-Rais Sadiqi” (the President was my friend) and his recently published one “Leqalbika Tajun men Fidda” (A Silver Crown for your Heart). All his works have been a big success.
MWN: Many controversial opinions were expressed about the real reasons behind the Syrian Revolution, but most protests raised slogans against tyranny, corruption, oppression, and lack of freedom. If the constraints made against freedom of expression were one of the reasons behind the Syrian Revolution, how did you suffer from it as a writer, a journalist and a former Editor-in-Chief?
Adnan Farzat: The reason behind the Syrian Revolution is very clear and does not need any interpretation. People got fed up of the military regime and the sole Party after half a Century. Human beings by nature refuse oppression except the ones who benefit from it. Therefore, after years of humiliation and despotism, people could no longer accept humiliation and subjugation.
Consequently, people revolted for their freedom spontaneously to stop anyone’s attempts to abort their revolution before it achieves its aims. As you know, there are some revolutionary mentalities that are not different from those of regimes, so they tried to manipulate the revolutionaries.
Concerning my suffering, we could not speak out against the corrupted system and illegal supremacy. During my work as a chief editor of “Al Doumari” newspaper, we suffered a lot from the attempts of imposing the regime’s positions on us. We were supposed to be a private newspaper, but the Ministry of communication started, by force, to supervise the contents of editions before publication, which pushed the newspaper’s owner, the caricaturist Ali Farazat to publish some white pages except for a small caricature drawing in the middle of the page. His objective was to show that censorship annulled the page’s content. My novels, however, didn’t suffer such censorship. By publishing my first novel “Jamr al-Nikayat” I expressed many revolutionary ideas and pointed out that oppression can lead to revolution and condemnation of tyranny. In fact, this is what happened a year after the publication of the novel. People revolted against their bad situations, which made some writers and critics claim that this novel was a prophecy for the revolution.
MWN: The novel “Ras al-Rajul al-kabir” (the Head of the Big Man) discussed one of the types of corruption which is selling antique pieces. Would you please talk to us about the novel and the symbolism deployed in it, and also about the relationship between the statue’s head and the big head which is the head of the state?
Adnan Farzat: It is my second novel and it is now being studied at the Moroccan university, Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdullah in Fez for the Master students in the module: “Composition and writing rules.” This novel is symbolical but very clear at the same time. As you have mentioned, it is the symbol of the ruler represented by the head of a king’s statue. At the end of this novel the head gets smashed. In fact, the novel alludes to the mafias of smuggling antiques’ and the falsification of history for the strongest. There are many antique pieces that are being sold abroad although they belong to the country. In this novel, I expected a political uprising in Halab which was very quiet at the beginning of the revolution. Yet I said that Halab is going to be involved in the revolution, and this is exactly what happened.
MWN: In your novel “Kana al-Rais Sadiqi” (the President was my friend) you referred to your brother, the Syrian caricaturist Ali Farazt and his relationship with the Syrian authorities and how they turned against him when he claimed his opposition. This theme pushed me to question the secret of the aggressive relationship that characterized communication between Arab writers and intellectuals and the political power for decades. How do you perceive this relationship?
Adnan Farzat: This is very true. The relationship between writers and authorities has always been problematic. Many writers paid their lives as a price for the issue of oppression that is represented by authorities, and the freedom represented by some intellectuals. I say “some of them” because the equation changed completely in the Syrian revolution and in other Arab revolutionary countries. We have discovered that many intellectuals support the political authorities despite the fact that they have produced many works where they call for freedom, and became rich thanks to these works, either from drama or cinema or even books. However, when this freedom became a reality believed by the people who went down the streets claiming their rights for it, these intellectuals let the masses down and supported the authorities.
MWN: Contrary to the revolutions that distinguished modern revolutionary movements starting from the American Revolution that was led and managed by intellectuals, the role of Arab intellectuals is usually seen to have shrunk from leaders to mere organizers in the street or to small bloggers. In your opinion, what is the reason behind the absence of Arab intellectuals’ leadership of a revolution, and what are its effects on it?
Adnan Farzat: This is so true and this is due to two factors. First, most intellectuals don’t believe in what they advocate, that is why they lead a life which is separate from their theories. Second, people do not believe in these ideas because they feel they are imaginary, utopian and lacking realism of their owners. Accordingly, the leading role of intellectuals disappeared, in addition to universities that used to be a crucial leader of public opinion, but then the awareness raising and the revolutionary role of scholars got confined to university and became solely academic.
MWN: The novel “Jamr al-Nikayat” (Embers of Spites) tells the story of a poor woman who votes against corrupted candidates but she didn’t succeed at the end. Can we consider the woman’s failure in making the poor’s and marginalized dreams come true a prophecy for the future of the revolution which, in itself, has adopted the poor’s hopes and aspirations? In your point of view, what change did Arab revolutions bring about?
Adnan Farzat: As I have mentioned at the beginning of this interview, some writers and critics have considered “Jamr al-Nikayat” as a prophecy for the Syrian revolution. It seems that the expectations it contained were true, including what you have mentioned. The heroine’s death at the end of the novel points out to the state of stagnation that some parts of the Syrian revolution have undergone, and also the leaders’ failure in convincing many categories of the people to support them. This has had very negative effects on the revolution’s development. Now, Syrians are leading their revolution at home on their own, without a charismatic leader people can trust and rely on.
In addition, the operation of its kidnapping by other groups caused such changes, but I have made the heroine’s daughter -who is mad- say to anyone who inquires about her mother that “she has been asleep for a week.” This means that she cherished hope and that this death is only a temporary sleep from which the heroine who is “the revolution,” might wake up. Personally, I am confident about the fall of any totalitarian and oppressive regime under the fierce and insistent fight and claim for freedom.
MWN: The concept of dialogue among civilizations has been sung by many intellectuals since Roger Garaudy brought it out. It does not aim at integrating cultures by melting individual particularities and disparities, but it has the objective of making people adopt the principles of tolerance and respect of difference. As a researcher in the dialogue among civilizations, to what extent can we talk about the existence of a real dialogue among civilizations in a time of wars and conflicts of interests? And how do you assess the world’s position towards what is happening now in Syria?
Adnan Farzat: Yes and on the other hand, there is the term of “Clash of Civilizations” of the American intellectual Dr. Samuel P. Huntington. I feel it in the conflict that is taking place nowadays. I believe that nations that are not religiously racial, or politically bigoted, have the ambition to become closer culturally and spiritually, for they are all aspiring to live in peace and harmony. But those who use religions as a means of achieving power and making wealth are responsible for igniting conflicts, while religions call for tolerance. Politicians also play very important roles in creating conflicts, for some of them are wars mercenaries and are concerned only with their economic interests which peace cannot offer them. Concerning what is happening in Syria, the world countries’ attitude is very negative towards it.
It has just extended killing. You may have noticed how the world countries interfere in a few hours in some regions to stop the killing and help in the fall of oppressive regimes. This, however, was not the case in Syria. On the opposite, they have provided long term opportunities for causing ruin and destruction in Syria, and transformed it into a card for negotiations in issues that are not at all related to Syria, such as the nuclear Iranian issue and so forth. Therefore, the international community is the killer number one in Syria.
This article was first published in MWN Arabic and translated into English by Karima Ouerjani
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