By: Mouhanad A. Al-Rifay
The Syrian Revolution is not just a revolution against tyranny and dictatorship, it’s a revolution against a whole way of life based on fear and unquestioning submission to authority. For many it’s a revolution against religious and societal traditions. For the young, the true revolutionaries, the revolution is against instruments of control and subjugation, a revolution against limits and boundaries, a revolution for absolute freedom. One of the most amazing aspects of the Syrian Revolution is the art. Over the course of the past 9 months, we have witnessed the rise of a global underground artistic scene that includes video productions, singing, photography, painting and design. Though many may not notice the importance of this movement, it is one of the most striking aspects of the revolution. A song by rebel Ibrahim al-Qashoos titled, Yalla Irhal ya Bashar (come on, Leave Bashar) has become the anthem of the revolution. This song was echoed across Syria, in all cities and towns, and across expat communities. It’s been repeated all over the world, from Cairo to Washington DC through London and Paris. Yalla Irhal ya Bashar is more than a phenomenon, it has become the soul of the Syrian Revolution. The fate of its original singer, who was slaughtered by pro-Assad militias who removed his throat and dumped his body into the Orontes River, added a certain mythological dimension into the mix.
When it comes to design, the Friday banners speak for themselves. Every Friday we have a new design and new name meant to telegraph the demands of the Revolution to the world. The “Friday of the No Fly Zone” and the Friday of “Your Silence is killing Us” make the points clear. Every Friday, loads of new designs and banners are put out on numerous websites and Facebook pages to be used by supporters of the Revolution all over the world. The anonymous artists behind these works are heroes. Without them, the Revolution would have been a bland affair.
Another amazing aspect of the Syrian Revolution is the proliferation of short cartoons and shows that make fun of current hardships. Many young and old Syrians living all over the world have been making films about the Syrian revolution mocking Assad and making fun of him. These short movies have made it easier for the revolution to reach the hearts of people around the world, showing why Syrians are rebelling against Assad and underscoring the peaceful nature of the protest movement, even in the face of tanks. By targeting international audiences, these movies are making it easier for so many people’s around the world to sympathize with the demands of the Syrian revolutionaries.
On a different front, a couple of days ago I was lucky to discover the work of a Syrian artist on Facebook who posted his paintings about Syrian Martyrs. A special painting of the singer Ibrahim al-Qashoosh caught my attention and I set it as wallpaper on my iPhone. I can only describe the affect this work of art left on me: I was speechless. When I saw it, it hit me very hard: After toppling Assad in the coming months, we certainly need time for our wounds to heal, so we can move forward together towards a better future.
Over the coming years, we might even forget the hardships we are going through now. But when we look back at the art we’ve produced during this period, we’ll be able to remember the reasons why we’ve revolted against Assad and why we will never allow another tyrant to take our freedom. Our Art is our mark on the present and our storage of memories for the future. It is the art of Freedom.