Valentine’s Day has always been a controversial holiday in Syria, widely viewed as an imposition of Western values on the Middle East’s social conservative culture. Yet some Syrians have always been adamant about joining in this global display of love, and war hasn’t stopped them.
Social media news streams offered proof that some were marking the holiday in Syria. A rebel (below left) held a sign written for his valentine that says: “You are the only one who will know me from my eyes. It’s been a year and a half. I miss you.” A street vendor (below right) arranged his eggs in the shape of a heart.
An activist directed a jab at Islamists who oppose Valentine’s Day and any other holiday that wasn’t celebrated by the Prophet Mohammed. In a snide note to the Syrian Revolution’s top Facebook page, which is known to be run by affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood, she wished the party’s leader well on the special day.
But one of the most widely shared items on social media this Valentine’s Day provided an example of love and suffering that could have been lifted from a Hollywood script, but instead played out in the dirty, bloody streets of Aleppo.
The graphic video—which was leaked last month and redistributed on Valentine’s Day—shows a man being dragged down a street in his underwear by a group of Syrian soldiers. He is in obvious pain and repeatedly asks if he could see his children one last time, to say goodbye.
A soldier tells his comrades to stop for a moment and asks the man: “Will you allow me to f*| your wife? If you let me f*| your wife then you can see your kids.”
The man pauses for a few seconds, perhaps thinking of what kind of bargain he could make, or of the hell that would be unleashed on his family if he accepts this odious deal. It’s unlikely that his thoughts during that moment will ever be known, but his response in the video was clear.
He says God no. “My wife is my soul… she’s the crown on my head.”
Moving on to the less tragic, last week, Mehdi Taeb, a senior Iranian cleric, said that Syria is so strategic to the Islamic Republic that it’s considered as Iran’s 35th province, and that losing Syria would result in losing Tehran. Taeb also said that Iran was training 60,000 Syrians and helped them form militias for urban battles against opponents of the Assad regime.
There were many responses from opposition leaders and activists, but the funniest, as usual, was from the parody Facebook page the Chinese Revolution.
Our video in the spotlight this week comes from the town of Tabqa in Raqqa, home to workers who operated the largest dam in Syria, which was captured by rebels last week. Fighters set fire to a large statue of Hafez al Assad which kicked out an unusual amount of black smoke, leading some activists to conclude that the statue was filled with plastic rather than stone and concrete.
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