What changed in the Syrian regime affiliated media in the course of seven years?
In each Syrian revolution Syrian revolution’s anniversary, and with the increasing number of years, many of the regime’s supporters and revolution’ opponents tend to demonstrate the “hell” in which the Syrian revolutionaries had put themselves, when they decided to neglect the “heaven” they were living in.
No doubt, we all agree that various parts in Syria are witnessing a deteriorating situation today, after the revolution was derailed and entangled in an international war, but were the Syrians living in “heaven” before the revolution? A tour of the Syrian regime’s media today is fair enough to find the appropriate answer, because what made the Syrian people revolt in the past, is still the same today, nothing has changed.
In this article, Enab Baladi toured Syrian regime’s governmental media sites, satellite channels and official newspapers, the media discourse in the revolution’s seventh anniversary, in an attempt to extrapolate the changes and find an answer: Has the policy of ignorance and “one voice” changed?
A dirty Washing
People, who browse the governmental sites of Syrian regime and familiar of their published articles and press materials, can easily figure out that the regime is still criminalizing and distrusting its opponents, refusing any different movements and expressing this point of view using offensive words, and the article No.46-15789, of Bassem Hachem, published in Baath newspaper, is an accurate example.
This article was published in a newspaper speaking in the name of the party, in March 16th, in the occasion of the Syrian crisis’s seventh anniversary, and in which Bassem Hachem used words such as, “hypocrites”, “small bubbles” and “mutual burglary on chairs”. Moreover, he described the opposition as “a chagrined and ethically decayed (in its resolution to foreigners) opposition, a reluctant opposition scattered across platforms conflicting loyalties”
The worst thing about the article is likely to be its conclusion. In this part, the author has underestimated the tragedy of millions of migrants and displaced Syrians and hundreds of thousands of martyrs and detainees, and considered them as “filth”, saying that “throughout the seven years, Syria succeeded in purifying itself from its “dirty washing”, and now, all it has to do is to succeed in the reconstruction”.
What is written in the above-mentioned article is not different from what is written in the official newspapers. It is a typical example of the language and ideas that prevail in it. Readers can just have a look on the headlines of the revolution and Baath Tishreen newspapers to ensure that.
Breeding the Huskies
As for the regime’s satellite channels, they are not much far from newspapers. Their programs tend to range between levying and distrusting, on the one hand, and ignoring on the other hand, making them completely detached from Syrians and the concerns and challenges they are facing. For example, at the time when Aleppo was witnessing a heightened military campaign, these channels tended to allocate programs that showed the benefits of reading and the young talented musicians, or display programs on looking after pets, while the majority of Syrians are unable of securing food to their children.
For instance, the Syrian TV once displayed an episode from “Shabeb.com”, in which they tackled the issue of dogs and talked about the benefits of watermelon for the Huskies, the importance of sports for dogs and how to organize a special corner for dogs in your house and ensure their warmth using old clothes, whereas these used clothes are considered a source of clothing for more than half of the Syrians inside the country.
The strange thing is that this episode has been broadcasted after a day from the violent bombings that hit the capital’s Justice Palace and Al Rabwah.
Abu Ali: their child is fighting against us
While the detachment from reality has been considered an associated feature of the Syrian TV since its beginning, the levying against the revolted category of people has become an integral part in its programs in these six years. This is achieved through mobilizing sentiments against who ruined the country and the warlords, urging more young people to participate in the war against Syrians, through recruitment adverts and their advantages, calls for joining the army through newspapers and the offensive language, full of “the desire of getting rid of the other before they get rid of us”.
This language is delivered through the sacrifice and redemption stories that families who live in the Syrian coast tell about, such as the story of Abu Ali and his family. This story was published in “Sawa w Rah Neb’aa Sawa” program (we’re together and we’ll stay together) and in which this fighter talked about “the participation” of his three sons in the battle after joining him.
“My son Khodhr once asked me “what do you think of wars?” I told him that “their sons and their sheikhs are fighting on their sides and they are inciting them to kill us. They are not distinguishing between Muslims and Christians! We have to participate, all of us. We cannot stay and wait for them till they come to us, no way!”
This way, the child became a legitimate fellow to Abu Ali and his sons, proudly talked about his heroism in Eastern Ghouta and Hama, against terrorists.
Who is following the Syrian state media?
“I prefer the Arabic channels, news are delivered in a more credible way and serials usually come at their exact time, at least.” said Ms. Haifa, a housewife from Homs. “I have not watched Syrian channels since the beginning of the Syrian revolution and I am quite sure that none of my relatives or neighbors is following their programs. I only watch them in order to be informed about the beginning of Ramadan and Eid and make sure if there will be official holidays due to the bad weather”, she added.
When we asked Ms. Haifa about newspapers she laughed and said “We all know that none of us is interested in reading newspapers, this is a fact. Employees buy them just to resolve the crosswords and housewives usually recommend them to clean the glass. When the security situations had been intensified here in Homs, we witnessed a newspaper crisis, they stopped buying them, but we used the old ones for the cleaning.”
While Ms Haifa chose to follow the Arabic news channels, Ms. HL from Damascus was “forced to follow the Syrian regime’s news channels”.
“I know that our media is changing facts and it is so hard for me to read that people of Ghouta, among whom I had been living, have been considered “terrorists”, but I am forced to follow the Syrian regime’s news channels due to my location. We live close to al-Khateeb Branch and our lives are fully monitored due to their frequent visits. Therefore, we do not even dare change these prejudiced news channels and this is how they became our source of news, at home and even in my husband’s shop, where he works, because the situation is the same everywhere.”
The engineer is making sure whether his choices were correct or not
Rami, an engineer from Hama have another motive that drives him to follow the Syrian TV channels and check its newspapers’ sites frequently.
“I need to make sure, each time that I was right when I participated in the revolution against the Assad regime. The strange thing is that nothing has changed, except for the worst.” He said. “The Assad regime is obviously arrogant and believes that Syrians do not deserve what is better. The regime itself does not give Syrians an opportunity to feel remorse or sense that they might have been better than they thought.”
Rami pointed out that this is not only limited to the news stories and political programs, but also the entertaining programs. “Can you imagine that the entertainment programs today are focusing on old YouTube sequences, on which the broadcasters are commenting in a very ridiculous way? Can TV programs be shallow to this extent? He said.
As for newspapers, Rami said that “Their price was just 5SYP and we were not interested in buying them, so how are we supposed to buy them, now, when their cost has increased to 25SYP!”, adding that he usually has a look on official newspapers’ sites “just to laugh”.
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