Monday, April 14, 2008

From Hama to Mahalla

This is a simple story that an Arab grandmother may tell her kids. It does explain a lot of events.
I'm quoting it from Thomas Friedman's From Beirut to Jerusalem:

" One day, an elderly Bedouin man discovered that by eating turkey he could restore his virility. So he bought himself a turkey and kept it around the tent, and every day he watched it grow...One day though, the turkey was stolen, so the Bedouin called his sons together and said, "Boys, we are in great danger now- terrible danger, my turkey's been stolen."
The boys laughed laughed and said, "Father, what do you need a turkey for?"
He said, "Never mind, never mind. It is not important why I need the turkey. All that is important is that my turkey has been stolen and we must get it back."
But the sons ignored him and forgot about the turkey. A few weeks later the old man's camel was stolen. His sons came to him and said, "Father, your camel's stolen, what should we do?" And the old man said, "Find my turkey." A few weeks later the old man's horse was stolen, and the sons came and said, "Father, your horse's been stolen, what should we do?" He said, "Find my turkey." Finally, a few weeks later, someone raped his daughter.
The father went to his sons and said, "It is all because of the turkey. When they saw that they could take my turkey, we lost everything."

Friedman mentioned this story in a brilliant correlation to what Hafiz Al-Assad massacre of the Brotherhood members in Hama (حماة) twenty-five years ago. The Syrian army "invaded" and completely destroyed the city that had been violently overtaken by the Brotherhood. It was estimated that 25 to 35 thousand Syrians were killed. No journalists was allowed near the city at that time; however Friedman was one of the first journalists to visit the city after the Syrians government had rebuilt it. He described the chilling encounter with a man in Hama"

" As my taxi driver and I rode off, we encountered a stoop-shouldered old man, who was shuffling along this field of death.
"Where are all the houses that once stood here?" we stopped and asked.
"You are driving on them," he said.
"But where are all the people that used to live here"
"You are probably driving on some of them, too," he mumbled, and then continued to shuffle away.

Friedman called that chapter in his books "Hama Rules". Any Arab knows very well that Hama Rules did not apply only to Hama, and they're still in practice in the unwritten constitutions of several Arab leaders. I've been reading about the recent events in Mahalla, Egypt and thinking to myself whether Mubarak is going to play by the Hama Rules and there are not a lot of reasons to make me believe otherwise.


Mohanned said...

So you do read for friedman..I like this guy.
As for mahalla, alla yostor.

Hareega said...

just that book so far, haven't finished it yet. It's painful to say the least, but a must-read

Mohanned said...

I highly recommend reading all his books.

Hareega said...

will do, but not before i finish his 600-page book!