Friday, April 8, 2011

Syria: An Ethical Uprising

The news on the uprising in Syria has been difficult for me and Syrians around the world to absorb. It has been even more difficult for me, as a Syrian, to write about. But these words by Ilyas Khoury must be shared. They describe Syria's role in shining the spotlight on the ethical aspect of the Arab World's revolutions. You can find the original Arabic article here. What follows is my translation of a few select paragraphs of his work.

Tunisia gave birth to the now famous slogan: “the people want to overthrow the regime.” Egypt set the foundation of “Liberation Square,” balancing the powers of the army with that of the January 25th revolutionaries. Syria, where the people’s revolution is bursting amidst blood and fear, added a new slogan to the streets of revolution: “the Syrian people cannot be humiliated” …

The people cannot be humiliated, and they reject humiliation …

The use of the word “humiliation” means that people are crying out against the deepest of wounds. The word “humiliation” is one of the most savage and chaotic words in the Arabic language, to the extent that Ibn Manthour found no synonym for it in the most complete Arabic dictionary, Lisan al-Arab. The definition he offered was this: “humiliation is the opposite of respect and honor … humiliation is raggedness, subjugation.”

Ibn Manthour could not explain the meaning of humiliation except by citing its opposite. This is because “humiliation” in Arabic brings together “subjugation” and “shame,” includes the abuse of honor, and leads to the feeling of a loss of humanity.

The Tunisians and Egyptians raised political slogans in their revolutions. Syrians, however, fashioned the ethical slogan for the revolutions sweeping across the Arab World. This uprising is, at its core, an ethical uprising: it is a call for regaining individual and national honor.