By Weedah Hamzah Sep 1, 2011, 5:01 GMT
Damascus/Beirut – Facing domestic turmoil, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad calls his ally, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. One quick conversation later, the Iranians are preparing a special rocket for al-Assad to use against protesters.
Cue the … humour?
Syrian activists have unleashed a new weapon in their attempts to dislodge al-Assad from power: ridicule. That comes in the form of a series of new cartoons – some viewable on YouTube, under the name Wikisham.
‘Ridiculing Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and his regime, is a new way for promoting our revolution,’ Rami Nakhle, a Syrian activist who lives in Lebanon, told the German Press Agency dpa.
WikiSham, (Sham in Arabic means Damascus) consists mainly of satirical mocking of al-Assad; his brother Maher, head of the military arm of the regime; and his cousin Rami Makhlouf, a well-known Syrian business tycoon.
The goal is for the cartoons to prompt more Syrians to join the fight for change – since mid-March more than 2,000 have died in crackdowns on the pro-democracy protest movement, report human rights groups – and hopefully end the regime.
‘Revolutionaries around the globe resort to cartoons because they condense an overall theme that may be complicated in reality and also to increase their supporters as well as encourage people to enroll in their ranks,’ Hala Raad, a Lebanese psychologist told dpa.
The characters are digitally animated, speaking in colloquial Arabic. There are no subtitles in other languages.
The cartoons do not spare Syria’s main backers, such as Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, supreme guide of the Iranian revolution.
They also try to depict what protesters say is happening behind the scene.
Since the Syrian uprising started, activists have accused Iran and its allies in Lebanon, Hezbollah, of helping out the Syrian security forces in crackdowns.
‘The ideas reflect the real facts and how the regime deals with the issues of the people who are calling for their freedom and rights,’ said Nakhle.
‘We found it the best way to show the people around the Arab world how this regime deals with local and political issues,’ he added.
In another episode, al-Assad appears disguised, asking a wise man about the meaning of the Syrian revolution’s slogan, ‘The Syrian people will never accept oppression.’
‘My son, kings and presidents should know no matter what they do, if their people are unhappy with their rulings, they will pay one day and nothing, not even God, will protect them,’ the wise man tells Assad.
Most of the episodes take place in the ‘People’s Palace,’ the presidential headquarters where the real al-Assad lives.
The president usually seems worried in the episodes, mainly taking military advice from his brother Maher, who is always wearing army fatigues.
Maher al-Assad, who heads the fourth brigade, has been blamed for most of the crackdowns and the killings on the pro-democracy protesters.
The dialect used by the characters is in a heavy accent to remind that the Assad family – which has ruled Syria for 41 years – comes from the Alawite mountains overlooking the Mediterranean. That emphasizes that the Alawite minority – Shiites – rules a majority composed of Sunni Muslims. Website: http://www.YouTube.com/user/wikisham