By Mohammad Suleiman
A new scene has emerged from the Great War currently raging in the region, which has recently been the focus in the Arab and foreign news stations as well as the exchanges of activists on social networks. It is that of images from Kobanî of Kurdish women and girls holding arms in their hands, ready to defend their land and honor against the danger ISIS represents.
They refuse to stay at home, docilely awaiting their turn to be raped and imprisoned. They recognize no difference between men and women in leadership, defense of their territory, work, education, upbringing, or home. They are women—once again—proudly standing in the frontlines, assuming leadership and sending messages of liberation and power to the whole world. Have any Arabs seen those pictures? Have they picked up the signals of rebellion over weakness and subservience? This may, perhaps, be a new lesson to everyone in this region, not only women.
These painful past few years that beset all of us made us realize facts that may have long existed, but which we chose to either ignore or forget. Such as the fact that Syrian women are capable of being an integral part of the liberation process, and to shape the future. This has been demonstrated to all and sundry in many forms and images. It will be too difficult to enumerate cases, or to mention the names of every woman who has displayed action, initiative, or sacrifice—especially since this is a list that is daily growing.
Everyday we hear about a woman who has sacrificed. Every day we witness a Syrian woman attempting to paint a stroke of beauty amid this dark reality—be it, for example, changing the habitual scene of the Eid [post-Hajj pilgrimage feast] sermon traditionally delivered by a man; be it trekking thousands of miles and visiting several countries in order to tell the story of Syrian pain and hope, to tell the world how we all, without distinction, wish the best for this earth and all humans; or be it a woman trapped or hijacked—yet remaining steadfast, in order to convey the pain of those who remain inside the country.
Most of us know that Germany, after World War II, was a country almost without Germans. Only women, and very few men remained. The renaissance of the world’s most powerful economy and culture in the present era was achieved by German women, who were more like the “machines” that wove Germany’s future, opened unlimited horizons, and extended the world new hope for the resurrection of nations and human beings from the trenches of darkness and war. Syrian women too, over history, have been active in the fields of politics, medicine, science, etc. Women have been present in every historical event related to progress and freedom—even during the Ottoman era, in which women’s roles were always subdued. 1872, for example, witnessed the first women's demonstration against the Ottoman governor in protest against the rise in food prices. In 1939, women chanted on the streets rejecting the separation of the Sanjak [district] of Alexandretta from Syria.
Despite today’s wretched reality, women are strongly present, holding back their tears and grief, refusing to be weak and powerless, or without an integral role to play. Women see no difference between themselves and men when it comes to the nation, in war and in peace. So were they raised, so will they remain. They will be the beautiful half of that dream that cannot die in Syrians’ minds, in their conscious and subconscious. No matter how much pain and despair exist in our present, they will be the bright image of tomorrow, of that future that is sure to come.