Let me start with a question: When was the last time you can recall a Western news channel broadcasting the views of moderate people in Syria? Don’t be hard on yourself if you can’t recall any examples. Western media only report the extremist views of the anti-government factions as ‘the voice of the Syrian people’ and show you images of war in Syria.
I wish I could show you the photos I never took: The two soldiers holding hands (In Syria, a sign of affection and close friendship not homosexuality) The dog perched on the front of a fast-moving scooter; enjoying the wind blowing in his face. I swear the dog was smiling. There were also the many opportunities for photos of soldiers kicking a ball around with kids in the street. It would have painted a thousand words, none of which would have been mentioned on the news media.
The truth is: No country could function if such extremism and sensationalism portrayed as Syria in the news media was an everyday occurrence. People don’t run from one street corner to the next dodging bullets, they shop for food and sit in cafes. They go to work. This past month has been student exam time; with all the pressure and stress they bring. Throughout most of Syria, civil war has been pushed to the back of the minds of students and parents, alike.
I would be lying if I said Syria wasn’t going through troubles, but viewers of news media in the West cannot appreciate the extent to which the news reportings are inaccurate, some of it is intentional some of it isn’t. No one is interested in the news that Syrians are buying eggs, but a report on students managing to undertake exams during this time and the fact that the price of gas canisters has risen from 300 Syrian pounds (3.75€ or US$4.71) to over 2,000 Syrian pounds (24.87€ or US$31.50) thanks to the sanctions, and that for some, its only available on the black market, would be something to report.
The question I keep asking myself is why is the Western media reporting Syria in the manner in which it does? I know people who have smuggled videos out of Homs that show an anti-Syrian Free Army view, which the BBC declined. I, myself, have had footage turned down on the grounds that they didn’t have time to show it.
In the four years that I have visited Syria – all the many people from different walks of life and different political and religious beliefs, I have never met one – not one person – who wants foreign intervention in Syria.
If the US, the EU and Australia really do want to protect the wishes of Syrians, they could start by listening to the Syrians speak.
You can listen to the report I made for The Wire radio in Australia that gives a voice to the real view from Syria
Thanks to Alaa Nasser for the use of his cartoons