In ANSA-med November 23, 2016
Translated from Italian by Tom Winter, November 26, 2015
ROME – “I fear that Islamic terrorism will strike Europe again, and will not stop with Paris. We Syrians know well its dangers.” The speaker, in an interview with ANSA, is Diana Jabbour, head of film and television production in Syria, here to participate tomorrow in a conference organized by the “Federation Assadakah Italy – Centro Italo-Arab-Mediterranean” and in “National Coordination for National Peace in Syria” and to present a very specific request to a group of Italian parliamentarians.
“It is necessary that Italy and Syria restore diplomatic relations, without prejudice. It “was a mistake to have stopped them, because the lack of information each from the other does not help the cause of justice and peace.”
Jabbour for ten years directed Syria’s film and television system and does not hesitate to admit that the government in Damascus has unfortunately been losing the “media war:”
“There was a total boycott of Syrian media. Suffice it to say that the Syrian television channel has been removed from the European and Arab satellite platforms. ” In the meantime,” she adds, “the Western media have spread propaganda — that is driven and also subsidized by some fundamentalist countries in the region — about what was happening in Syria” and “voices from outside of the choir are rare.”
“It is not credible,” she observes, “that Assad is the enemy of the whole world, while the West relies on extremist regimes, Wahhabis, where people get decapitated, just like in the Caliphate.”
“It is a paradox” – she said – “that these regimes are invited to debate democracy in Syria.”
“I ask Western journalists to come to our country, to look with their own eyes, and then to write what they want. It’s not fair that they base their information on sites that are not even in Syria and that spread false propaganda,” she says. .
Inside Syria, the national television reaches the areas controlled by jihadis, but people are forbidden see it, on pain of death. “Ten days ago in Raqqa, a woman was stoned to death because they accused her of connecting to the Internet,” says Diana Jabbour. “The militiamen of Isis,” she comments, “are not not actually fighting against a certain type of regime, but against a culture and that is why, in addition to destroying archaeological sites and our memory, they often attack television crews.” “This is what we try to counter-act in continuing in our production.” The war has cut their activity in half, and “from the 60 TV shows of 2010, we have moved now to thirty.” “But the important thing is to continue to film, to make culture.”
One of the most popular series is called “Haraer”, an Islamic term widely used by ISIS to define the role of women in society. “Here, in this series, we represent the real Syrian women, those who fought for national independence against the Turks and the French, the women who founded schools and newspapers. Women secular and free.”
Diana Jabbour has not lost hope about the chances of rebuilding Syria: “17 to 18 million people have stayed in the country.” “The problem is not just the ruined buildings. You need to rebuild a civil and secular pact that unites the Syrians. The reconciliation process will be long, but the Syrians want it. We need a transition that allows to rebuild a social fabric. The fact that there were no Syrians in Vienna, just world and regional powers, “makes it clear what the war was driven from the outside.”
“And first the jihadists’ supply of money and weapons from the outside has to stop. As for Assad, I do not know what he has in mind to do, whether to run again or not. But as a Syrian, I don’t not want anyone else to decide this for me. There must be an international effort to get to free elections, where the Syrians themselves could elect their representatives. “