News / Middle East

Syrian Singer Rallies Assad Forces

Multimedia

Audio
Elizabeth Arrott

As rebel fighters battle Syria's military on the outskirts of Damascus, President Bashar al-Assad's allies in the capital continue to show strength with massive rallies in his support.

Few are as unapologetic in their defense of the embattled leader as singer Rami Kazour, whose "God, Syria and Bashar" has become an anthem.

Checkpoints block roads entering Damascus, but city-center traffic slows only for the normal workday rush.  There is one obstacle ahead: outside the central bank, a stage is set up for a rally to be held the following day. 

Rami Kazour is making a music video, singing above pre-recorded instrumentals and chorus.  His hair is gelled up and swept back, his black suit sleekly cut, and although the only audience is a few technicians and a reporter who happened by, the actor/singer/dancer is putting on a show.

His song is a patriotic medley extolling Syria's history and strength; it's the refrain that stands out.

It's a bold combination that puts God, Syria and President Assad's first name, Bashar, on equal footing - heady words for any leader and a provocative rebuke to his opponents in this country riven by sectarian divides.

Kazour takes a break from shooting and comes to the stage edge for an impromptu interview.  A government minder is present but, in this case, seems to make little difference.  Asked about the presumption of ranking the president up there with the almighty, he is unfazed.

Kazour says the wording is deliberate, to provoke those he calls Syria's "trash" - the protesters.  He calls Assad the last symbol of righteousness among Arab leaders. 

During the past year of popular uprisings, the roster of Arab rulers has changed dramatically.  Kazour is reminded that his song recalls perhaps the most reviled of former leaders, and his slogan "God, Libya and Moammar."

Adjusting his flag-emblazoned scarf, Kazour says Syria is not like Egypt or Tunisia or Libya.  This is "a nation of lions," he declares, "exceptional in everything."

Human-rights groups agree that Syria indeed is exceptional, for its cruel treatment of anyone who openly opposes the Assad regime.  Accounts of torture and atrocities by pro-government forces have grown as the revolt has expanded.  The body of Kazour's counterpart across the barricades, anti-Assad singer Ibrahim Kashoush, is reported to have been found floating in the Assi River, his throat slashed open.  The entertainer says that is false propaganda.

He says Al-Jazeera has many such stories: Al-Jazeera and, in what would be an unlikely media alliance, the "Hebrew channel."  He advises against watching either if one wants the truth.

Truth seems to be in short supply in Syria. Arab League monitors have been roundly criticized for failing to see clearly what's happening on the ground.

The United Nations tried to count the numbers of civilians killed last year, but has given up the effort. 

In the vacuum, both the government and opposition have hardened their positions.  The opposition circulates horrific videos while the government shows off crowds of hundreds of thousands of people who say they support Assad.

One skeptic says much of that fervent government support is probably quite shallow.  He says many people are like Kazour, who he says is "an actor" who "will flee before the regime falls." 

But Kazour and many others have publicly tied their future to the government's.

Still, there is some genuine support for the Assad family, which has run Syria for 40 years.  Some have a vested interest - jobs, property, privileges - in the status quo; others fear all-out civil war.

This was a relatively calm day in the capital.  The conflict was only a few kilometers away, but it seemed more distant than that on this bright, sunny day.

Kazour's immediate concern is for some cloud cover; it will give the video a more flattering light.

 

Violence spread across Syria once again on Friday, at demonstrations demanding an end to President Bashar al-Assad. At least 37 people were killed in Allepo, Hama, Homs, near Damascus and elsewhere. Among the victims, activists say, were six government security forces killed in a car bomb explosion. Demonstrations in support of Assad continue, however, in government-controlled areas. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott came across a particularly fervent display on a recent tour of Damascus, accompanied by pro-government escorts. She tells us about singer Ramzi Kazour and his song of praise for Assad - "God, Syria and Bashar."

Checkpoints block roads entering Damascus, but city-center traffic slows only for the normal workday rush. There is one obstacle ahead: outside the central bank, a stage is set up for a rally to be held the following day.

Rami Kazour is making a music video, singing above pre-recorded instrumentals and chorus. His hair is gelled up and swept back, his black suit sleekly cut, and although the only audience is a few technicians and a reporter who happened by, the actor/singer/dancer is putting on a show.

His song is a patriotic medley extolling Syria's history and strength; it's the refrain that stands out.

It's a bold combination that puts God, Syria and President Assad's first name, Bashar, on equal footing - heady words for any leader and a provocative rebuke to his opponents in this country riven by sectarian divides.

Kazour takes a break from shooting and comes to the stage edge for an impromptu interview. A government minder is present but, in this case, seems to make little difference. Asked about the presumption of ranking the president up there with the almighty, he is unfazed.

Kazour says the wording is deliberate, to provoke those he calls Syria's "trash" - the protesters. He calls Assad the last symbol of righteousness among Arab leaders.

During the past year of popular uprisings, the roster of Arab rulers has changed dramatically. Kazour is reminded that his song recalls perhaps the most reviled of former leaders, and his slogan "God, Libya and Moammar."

Adjusting his flag-emblazoned scarf, Kazour says Syria is not like Egypt or Tunisia or Libya. This is "a nation of lions," he declares, "exceptional in everything."

Human-rights groups agree that Syria indeed is exceptional, for its cruel treatment of anyone who openly opposes the Assad regime. Accounts of torture and atrocities by pro-government forces have grown as the revolt has expanded. The body of Kazour's counterpart across the barricades, anti-Assad singer Ibrahim Kashoush, is reported to have been found floating in the Assi River, his throat slashed open. The entertainer says that is false propaganda.

He says al-Jazeera has many such stories - Jazeera and, in what would be an unlikely media alliance, the "Hebrew channel." He advises against watching either if one wants the truth.

Truth seems to be in short supply in Syria. Arab League monitors have been roundly criticized for failing to see clearly what's happening on the ground.

The United Nations tried to count the numbers of civilians killed last year, but has given up the effort.

In the vacuum, both the government and opposition have hardened their positions. The opposition circulates horrific videos while the government shows off crowds of hundreds of thousands of people who say they support Assad.

One skeptic says much of that fervent government support is probably quite shallow. He says many people are like Kazour, who he says is "an actor" who "will flee before the regime falls."

But Kazour and many others have publicly tied their future to the government's.

Still, there is some genuine support for the Assad family, which has run Syria for 40 years. Some have a vested interest - jobs, property, privileges - in the status quo; others fear all-out civil war.

This was a relatively calm day in the capital. The conflict was only a few kilometers away, but it seemed more distant than that on this bright, sunny day.

Kazour's immediate concern is for some cloud cover; it will give the video a more flattering light.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

Ali Regained Title in Historic Fight 40 Years Ago

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid