Sunday, January 22, 2006

Where Are The Damascene Women?

I recently reread a dissertation written by Dr. Michael Provence entitled Plowshares into Swords: anti-colonial resistance and popular nationalism in French mandate Syria, 1925-1926. Dr. Provence begins Chapter IV of the book with a very interesting quote - one that points to the political vitality of Damascenes prior to the Ba'th-takeover, and one that I hope is a forcast of things to come.

Allow me to contextualize:

It is the year 1925. A popular rebellion against the French madate has just begun in the Syrian countryside. The Druze, with Beduin help, have just vanquished a French expeditionary force sent to occupy the town of Soueida'.

The Quote:

Appeal for the Women's Society to Damascus

O Arabs, descendants of glorious ancestors, we appeal to you to awake in these critical times of great tragedy under the government of France. There is nothing left to us but to mount a vigorous attack and expel this government from our country.

O People, this is an auspicious moment, we must not let it pass, To Arms! To Arms! The time has come to realize what you have promised to yourselves.

O People, your brothers of the countryside have made an appeal to your courage. Unleash your arms before the enemy who has invaded our homes, set fire to our temples of God, and tread on our sacred books...

This quote highlights the level of grassroots political activity that appeared to manifest itself in Damascus as far back as the 1920s (just in case, you all should have taken notice that it was a woman's society that released this pamphlet). I hope it reminds this blog's Syrian readers that there really was a time prior to the Ba'th hegemony during which politics was the peoples' business, and not necessarily the business of a specific family and its violent thugs.

I am looking forward to reading similar pamphlets coming from Damascus.


Anonymous said...


Sometimes I wonder if you are a Damascene woman.

If only I could have one for myself...

Doha said...

Anon 12:02pm,

Raja is a guy and he's Lebanese!

Raja said...

anon 12:02,

thanks for the complement! Affiliation with any group that is characterized by such gusto and political activity is a priviledge (whatever their sex).