Ahed Al Hendi says, as the media turn their attention to senseless violence elsewhere, the struggling, besieged people of Syria wonder: Where’s the demonstrators’ anger about what’s happening to us?
“Dear Arabs, if you had dared to protest against Bashar in the same way of your protest against the American embassies, Bashar would not have been able to kill 200 Syrians a day.”
So read a banner in Syria satirizing the absurd and exaggerated outrage against the Web trailer for Innocence of Muslims. Another read: “We have an Assad-esque movie that offends the messenger [Muhammad] and the god of the messenger. It’s been playing for 18 months.”
Many Syrians on Twitter, Facebook, and other social-media sites have expressed outrage about the production of this Web film. But their anger is largely directed at the Arab world’s reaction. Bashar al-Assad’s forces are slaughtering people on a daily basis not in a movie, but in real life, while the media and protesters elsewhere have shifted attention to what many Syrians call “a silly movie.”
“What happened affected us Syrians negatively,” Yassin Al Haj Saleh, a prominent Syrian writer and dissident based in Damascus, tells me over Google Chat. “First, media attention was focused on this story. Second, the movie and the violent reaction served the regime and its supporters by giving them an excuse—that a regime that looks modernist from the outside and depends on a criminal intelligence apparatus would be the best for the Middle East.”
Al Haj Saleh, who was one of 11 people recently awarded the Prince Claus Award for his work, did not rule out the possibility that the acts of violence were backed by remnants of ousted regimes or opportunistic populist movements.