Mocking him to death
The protesters go to war with wit
Jul 7th 2012 | DAMASCUS | from the print edition
NOBODY knows why the small town of Kafr Nabl, in north-western Syria, has become a hub of cheeky banners twitting President Bashar Assad and his regime. Still outgunned but not outwitted, protesters have been using comedy sketches, songs, art and slogans to spice up their rebellion.
When the UN’s observers who were supposed to be overseeing Kofi Annan’s peace plan were plainly far too thin on the ground, a banner went up with the words “Special offer! Collect 12,000 martyrs, get 30 observers free!” Another showed the observers taking photographs as the army rampaged, with Mr Assad, an eye doctor by training, slicing up a body.
A year ago when Mr Assad famously declared that “germs” were causing trouble in Syria, echoing Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s description, before his fall, of his opponents as “rats”, Syria’s protesters chanted, “Syrian germs salute Libyan rats!” In opposition-controlled areas taxi drivers and housewives sing songs telling Mr Assad to leave and mocking his brutal brother Maher as a donkey.
Mr Assad’s elongated neck and lisp have been a particular target of taunts. In “Top Goon: Diaries of a Little Dictator”, a puppet show series posted on YouTube, he trips over his words as he appears on a game show called “Who wants to kill a million?” Referring to the pet name the president’s wife, Asma, gives her husband, as revealed in a leaked e-mail, protesters recently used stencils to paint ducks and profiles of Mr Assad’s face side by side onto roads. “Duck, stop quacking! The Free Syrian Army is going to catch you”, runs another jingle.
Rude slogans also ridicule Mr Assad’s proclaimed valour against Israel, which has occupied Syria’s Golan Heights since 1967. “Bashar, you coward, take your dogs to the Golan!” Another jeer scoffs at a much-displayed official billboard of Mr Assad and his father, who reigned for 29 years before him, that declares they will rule “until eternity”. “No to eternity! No to eternity!” riposte the protesters.“Syria will live! Assad will die!”