By Yassin Zyani
By Yassin Zyani
Milan – The Syrian “Thawra” revolution started alongside street demonstrations on March 15, 2011. Initially, it began as a civil revolution aiming to give a democratic legitimacy to the state. Syrian people were pushed by a strong desire to breathe the smell of freedom.
The straw that broke the camel’s back took place when some children were arrested, condemned for writing on the wall of a school in Daraa, in southern Syria: “Down with Assad’s Regime.” Moreover, they ended up being tortured and went through brutal practices such as seeing their nails being removed. A revolt took shape from human tragedy; repression became a bloodbath.
In Syria, there are 32 underground jails, and once you enter them, you probably won’t come out alive. Journalist, activists, and anyone who is an opponent of Bashar Al Assad’s regime simply disappears.
One of the martyrs of the Syrian revolution is Hamza Al Katib – a 13-year-old boy who was arrested on April 29, 2011 – accused of taking part in a demonstration. His mutilated body was given back to his family on May 24, 2011, accompanied with burns on the chest, swollen eyes, and whipping scars. In addition, he bore witness to electric shocks.
In opposition to the Assad regime rose the Free Syrian Army (FSA) that took up arms using the flag with three stars dating to the short Syrian Republic of 1961 to 1963.
The civil war, providing instability and chaos ,has been a fertile ground for radical organizations; the majority of them come from the Iraqi Insurrection (2003), calling themselves ISIS and proclaiming their caliphate in Raqqa in June 2014.
This year, the war in Syria started to be much more complicated than it already was in its first two years, when the mainstream media did not pay much attention to what was going on in Syria. The power vaccuum has been filled by radical political organizations. The war started to have international ramifications, due to the surge in terrorism, its strategic positions, and the personal interests of the international actors.
ISIS has attracted a lot of foreign fighters. Generally, young people born and raised in Europe, second generation citizens. According to the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence, 4,300 units are foreign fighters from the West, including Europe, U.S.A., Australia, and Canada.
A genuine question would be: how can a young man or woman leave a peaceful country to join an uncertain future? The answer is quite clear. Young people that decide to fight in Syria have usually experienced racism in their own country, and they never felt completely part of the nation where they lived their whole life. They usually faced an identity crisis and lacked in their personal development. ISIS has exploited their emotions and weaknesses by creating in them a sense of oppression. One of the first steps is making them think that they will never be accepted.
Therefore, involving them psychologically in a radical fight against the whole West, which it identifies as the devil. ISIS has proven to be good at using Internet tools and recruiting potential foreign fighters through the Web. For example, Alhayat Media Center works on a sophisticated propaganda and has its own logo and high quality, professional videos. To have an idea about how much effort they spend in this field, just have a look at the last video with the British hostage, Jhon Cantlie.
As a consequence, a lot of people living in Europe, with a Muslim background have been affected by this propaganda that stigmatized their religion and made their life harder despite the fact they clearly dissociate from that cynical view on life.
Syrian people have seen their dreams fall apart, and more than four million fled their devastated cities, like Aleppo, now called the ghost city. According to UNCHR, 278,551 asylum applications were made by Syrians in Europe, with half of those in Germany and Sweden.
I have met some Syrian refugees in Milan in a place called Mezzanino. In Mezzanino, right before getting in the railway station, one can meet different volunteers giving time and effort to the refugees that are passing through Italy, where they can find something to eat and vital advice before they carry on with the journey of hope. SosERM has been founded by Susy Iovieno, who was awarded citizen of the year by Europe in 2014. Yet, despite everything, the real victims are their children that have seen their childhood stolen in front of a world that does not want to see, hear, or speak. The only thing we can do as citizens is to do not lose our sensibility and show solidarity to whomever suffers, whenever we get the chance.
Syrian Refugee, now in Sweden
“I spent $3,500 to be able to get on that boat just to be kicked in the ass by the traffickers. They treated us with authority, just because they had a gun on their hands. They pointed it at us and before letting us on, they robbed everything we had.”
Syrian Refugee, now in Austria
“There were 310 of us in a boat of 310 meters that broke down a few miles before the Pelagie Islands. The water was coming in the boat. We stayed there for three days with no food. We were lucky enough to be seen by a Norwegian ship. They saved us.”
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy