Syrias virtual massacres and sectarian storylines

Diana Moukalled

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Since its first day, The Syrian revolution has not stopped unraveling the real and horrid face of the Baath regime which does not hesitate in committing the most horrendous acts of violence that defy all rational and emotional laws. Every few days, we find on YouTube and Facebook photos and videos of utter brutality in which the thugs and officers of the Syrian regime inflict the worst types of torture upon the bodies and souls of their victims. With every photo and video, a few questions arise: Who leaks these? Is it the Syrian regime that is doing this? If so, why?

Time has shown us that leaking this material is a systematic practice on the part of the Syrian regime. First, the regime wants to prove that it will keep ignoring popular demands and will go ahead with its security choices regardless of any ethical or humanitarian consideration. Second, leaked photos and videos confirm fears of sectarian strife if the regime is toppled, justifying its actions no matter how brutal they are.

leaked photos and videos confirm fears of sectarian strife if the regime is toppled, justifying its actions no matter how brutal they are

Diana Moukalled
Videos were leaked last week showing pro-regime officers ruthlessly slaughtering unarmed civilians. These videos offered a snapshot of the fierce battles that raged not only between supporters and opponents of the regime, but also among opponents. Groups who are supposedly united for one cause were dragged into a sectarian conflict. Swearing that could be heard in the videos, words that were obviously intended to be that conspicuous, are derived from the sectarian dictionary currently used in Syria. The image portrayed is that of “Alawite” thugs torturing “Sunni” victims.

This discourse has actually managed to affect the people, this was made clear by the reactions of those who condemn this brutality. The matter was made more complicated when one of the participants in a filmed massacre turned out to be a member of the famous Berri family in Aleppo.

Murderer and murdered

In fact, the arguments about the sectarian identity of the murderer and the victim constitute another massacre of the Syrian people. Each actual massacre is now followed by a “virtual” one in which loyalists and opposition, as well as opposition and opposition, exchange incriminations.
People who follow those killings on Facebook ache with the heaviness of the psychological barrier that is now dividing Syrian factions and dragging them into isolation and sectarian destruction.

The link between actual and virtual massacres unravel another aspect of the Syrian tragedy, the regime is able to sow the seeds of sedition in the ranks of the opposition by endowing both the murderer and the murdered with sectarian identities.

This article was first published in Asharq AlAwsat on Jan. 10, 2013. Link: http://www.aawsat.com/leader.asp?section=3&issueno=12462&article=712478

(Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.)

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