September 10, 2003 Special Dispatch No. 570

Syrian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Glorifies Martyrs and Martyrdom

September 10, 2003
Syria | Special Dispatch No. 570

In the September 6, 2003 issue of the Syrian government daily Teshreen, the Syrian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Dr. Buthayna Sha'ban, wrote in her weekly column that "The martyrs represent the conscience of the nation. They are the noblest men in the world and the most respectable of all human beings." Three years earlier, on May 6, 2000, Syria's annual Martyrs Day, [1] Sha'ban wrote a paean to martyrs titled "The Blood of Martyrs" which was published in Teshreen. The following is the full text of her submission:

"The blood of martyrs gushes hot down the defiant slopes of Lebanon, not allowing history to be witness to the defeat of a nation. [This nation is at risk of defeat because] some of its sons have lost their resolve, entangling themselves in analogies, sophistries, protocols, and frameworks, while bulldozers raze [Arab] olive and orange groves and Arab homes in East Jerusalem, so as to change the features of history, homeland, and identity.

"The blood of martyrs gushes forth, in defense of and in revenge for [Arab] dignity, pride, right, and homeland, while others sit [to negotiate] and agree to remove [their] neckties as a sign of culture and confidence, while neglecting the culture of their own nation and neglecting equally the confidence placed in them by their peoples.

"The blood of martyrs issues a cry in the ears of every compatriot, man and woman, from the [Atlantic] ocean to the [Persian] Gulf: 'There is no more effective payment than blood [to redeem the homeland], and no way other than resistance. [2]

"The blood of martyrs inscribes a scroll that can be read only by those with faith in their peoples and in the future of the [Arab] nation, who are convinced that however great their [personal] accomplishments, they are but a single link in the life of the homelands and the peoples. Therefore, they are ready for giving, the utmost of all kinds of giving, so that the scattered drops [of blood] join together to form a stream, then a river, then a gushing torrent.

"The blood of martyrs brings to memory all the blood sacrificed from the dawn of history to today; and it gushes forth in purity, so that those who died will not think their blood was cheap, or their sacrifice blew away in the wind.

"The blood of martyrs faces death and looks it in the eye, telling it: 'I shall never fear you. My believing [Muslim] mother raised me to give me to you, so that the homelands remain free and noble.'

"Much did women utter cries of joy in the month of Teshreen [3] and dress in white, not black, because their children gained the honor of martyrdom - and there is no honor greater than this. Glorifying martyrs of their day is not limited to perpetuating the memory of those who died for Allah and the [Arab] homelands, but should include the glorification of every [man taking a] noble stand, defying humiliation, sanctifying dignity and going forth towards death in order to restore life to others.

"On Martyrs Day, every Arab compatriot should ask himself: 'Is it life that is the goal, no matter what the criteria and circumstances, or is it noble, free life that we all desire?' Martyrdom means no honor without the honor of the homeland, and no dignity without the homeland's head held proudly high.

"The blood of martyrs gushes forth from Lebanon, hot and abundant, over the maps of fragmentation and disunity, timidity and doubt, and all-engulfing selfishness, announcing that it is Arab blood that throbs in the heart of every Arab and that history will never be written by [spending] fortunes or [making] concessions, nor by inflating the dimensions of swollen egos; rather, it shall be written with the [shining] lights of these [martyrs]. Their stands will forever remain [inviolable] lines that others will be forced to recognize and honor.

"While this [Arab] nation is undeniably suffering from a misstep, all should remember that those who defended their causes with unyielding tenacity ultimately won the wager. Twenty-seven years in Robin Island prison did not bring Nelson Mandela to ask himself, 'How long will I break rocks?' Rather, he turned the breaking of rocks into a symbol signifying that his will and the will of those engaged in the struggle is stronger than rock and harder than steel and more deeply rooted than time itself.

"In this dark Arab tunnel and in this [state] of disunity that has weakened the capabilities of this nation and made it lose its status and honor among the [other] nations, the blood of the martyrs lights a candle of hope, so that others can discover what the martyr discovered - namely, that the other life is better than the first, and that those killed for Allah 'live near their Lord sustained,' [4] and that seeking martyrdom [Istishad] for the sake of the homeland is the only way to liberate the land and the will and to restore the rights."

[1] Martyrs Day was declared by the late president Hafez Al-Assad in 1970 to honor the fallen heroes of Arab Nationalism. The date, May 6, was chosen to mark the execution of 21 Syrian citizens by Ottoman Governor Jamal Pasha on that date in 1916.

[2] The Arabic word used here, Muqawama, usually refers to armed resistance.

[3] A reference to Teshreen 11, that is, November. Hizbullah's Martyrs Day is November 11.

[4] Koran 3 (Aal 'Imran): 169.

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