July 29, 2014 by Lina Sergie Attar
Three years ago, three Ramadans ago, the tide of optimism rooted in the masses’ steadfast and peaceful chants for freedom and dignity, began to turn on the Syrian Revolution. In the summer of 2011, #RamadanMassacre was the first ominous hashtag of the dark times to come. Violence escalated, first slowly than sharply, until it became the everyday norm in the struggle between people and regime. Still, with hopeful, Arab-Spring-oriented eyes fixated on Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, Syrians predicted that the Assad regime would fall by Eid, the holiday marking the end of the holy month of fasting, Ramadan. And if not by this Eid, then the next one for sure. For how long could a dictator slaughter the people? And how many could his thugs get away with killing and torturing? And how many bombs could the air force possibly drop on civilians? The end must be near.
Three years later, three Eids later, over 170,000 stolen Syrian lives later, and a country of leveled cities and scorched villages later, no one makes such naive and random predictions any longer. Instead, collective melancholy has cast a heavy shadow on this holiday. Not only has the violence escalated to unprecedented levels with over 1700 lives lost during the conflict’s deadliest week yet, but the world has turned its bored gaze away from Syria, seemingly forever this time.
Social media platforms that we once used to share news and videos about Syrian atrocities with the outside world have become our echo chambers to grieve and recollect with fellow Syrians. Over the last couple of days, I’ve been moved by Facebook statuses in Arabic — posted by Syrian friends from Syria to Turkey to America — that embody the bittersweet mood.
Each voice is heavy with nostalgia, regret, resilience, defiance, loss, and still, lined with a glimmer of hope. Each status is a miniature portrait of what Syria has become to Syrians: memories of a more innocent past infused with the hope that one Eid, not next Eid, but some Eid in our unknown future must finally bring with it sweetness without grief; happiness without ache; and life for all Syrians without bloodshed.