(Below is a translation of a joke, allegedly circulated amongst President Bashar al'Assad's inner circle.)
For no apparent reason, a passenger fell from the minibus.
Various people respond to the news in the following manner:
Interior Minister: The passenger, a Salafi, intended to destabilize national unity present among the bus passengers. For this reason, we don’t have to bear any responsibility for his hospital bills.
Haitham Manaa (Syrian intellectual, activist and one of the founders of Arab Commission for Human Rights): We have documents that show hundreds of passengers falling from minibuses. This was also presented to three businesses who wanted to invest in the minibus sector. However, I rejected the prospect and plan to present these documents to the criminal court and the regime should pay the bill.
Dr. Mohamed Said Ramadan al-Bouti (Islamic cleric and the head of the belief and religion department at the Faculty of the Islamic Law, Damascus University): We ask the Almighty to ease the situation. I have access to information that shows the regime is preparing ways to apply safety measures for the minibuses that would ensure the protection of passengers. We ask this passenger to repent to God and pay his own bills.
Al Jazeera Channel: An eyewitness said that the Syrian security forces bombed the minibus. The witness said that the passengers were chanting pro-regime slogans. The first estimated number of those killed was 56. Al Arabiya reported 156.
Dr. Ali al-Shuaibi (A tribal leader and a Syrian government representative in negotiations with the opposition): This act exposes the betrayal of the passenger to his homeland and his wife was a CIA agent.
Syrian TV: You are watching today the 8:30 pm news bulletin of the confession of the passenger of the minibus. Libya is behind a conspiracy against Syria. There is no mention of the hospital bill.
Syrian News: The passenger didn’t fall. There were only drops of rain and passengers were watching the rain happily. Shame on ...
Al Dunia TV: Half of the passengers fell while asking the driver of the minibus to hurry up and fix whatever what was wrong with the bus. And then millions marched at Al Umawyeen districts for this reason.
Khaled Abboud (Member of Syrian Parliament): The passenger moved from square to square projection falls. And the minibus problem can only be caused intentionally.
Nasser Kandil (Media personality and founder of Top News, media network): Case closed.
Walid al-Muallem (Foreign Minister of Syria): We will forget that there are minibuses in the world and will erase minibuses from the map.
Arab League: We resent the constant falling of passengers from the minibus, and will impose economic sanctions to force the regime to pay the bill. Who will pay the bill then?
As the debate rages about who will pay the bill, an ordinary citizen comes from nowhere, picks up the fallen passenger and takes him to the hospital where he pays the bill for him -- and then happily leaves. He knows at the end of the day it is the citizen that really pays the bill.
(This email was translated from Arabic by Ikram al-Yacoub)