episodes | 25 05 2020
This is forbidden... It's unethical... It’s against every principle..The religious man is sacred and we cannot harm his reputation.. The president is our guardian.. Talking about sex is a shame.. This is blasphemy..
People are accustomed to this kind of words, and especially prohibited topics, or the red lines or the unsaid, and this is what we mean by the word "taboo".
Often, these problems are a source of prejudice and those who tackle these topics are immediately exposed to punishment which may amount to the death penalty.
Some may find the word taboo strange, but this word is closely connected to their lives as it goes beyond religion, sex and politics and reaches the tiniest details of their daily life and their culture.
Individuals’ submission and blind obedience to taboos turn into an ethical feature.
Personal opinions and freedoms turn into debauchery against family, religion, society and politics.
Indeed, taboos have largely dominated society despite attempts made by some writers, researchers, and media programs to shed light on various issues.
Radio Rozana has launched a program to tackle "taboos" in Syrian society, addressing prohibited issues that will be discussed with specialists and community activists.
The idea started from some Syrian youth who found that some red lines resulting from the customs and traditions affect the establishment of a healthy society and restrains freedom and may even destroy it.
The first episode of the program covered the topic "Taboo creation" and included an opinion poll from regions inside and outside Syria. People answered the question, "Who creates the taboo? ... and what is the most common taboo issue in society?"
The programme presenter Mounir Ayoubi invited Dr. Ibrahim Salqini (PhD in Social Jurisprudence), Professor Samira Al-Baho (Activist in women's rights), and Safwan Jammu (political analyst).
The presenter asked his guests, "Who is responsible for the creation of taboos?"
Samira al-Bho explained that society, with its customs, traditions, religion and politics, has a big role to play in creating red lines to ensure that authority is being respected.
As for Safwan Jammu, he said that the taboo has existed since ancient times in our country even before tyranny. Society and politicians create it in multiple ways, as it was a good investment for them.
For example, in Syria at a certain time, talking about politics and the state might have led to losing one’s life. He added that the taboo is made by society and invested by politics.
Dr. Ibrahim Salkini found that ignorance creates taboos, and that everything is up for discussion.
He stressed that Arab and Islamic history testifies that all issues can be debatable.
He noted that ancient books that tackled all subjects are a case in point, explaining that a discussion based on scientific grounds without mockery, attacking others and obscenity is always possible.
A group of women participated in the debate session and in a workshop that was organized in advance by Rozana, dealing with the subject of taboos in Syrian society. A number of Syrian women were present to express their opinions.
Malak Toma (undergraduate student in political science and social science researcher) said that taboo is mainly created by politics, which also creates social norms by enacting laws and constitutions.
She explained that, for example, when the authority promulgates a new law, after a while that law becomes part of the culture. Likewise, the political authority paved the way for many taboos.
Razan Beheiri, who participated in the debate, emphasized that fear enhances the taboo in society due to the authoritarian practices. As for her, the more fear grows the more red lines get further.
Articles and research papers have often linked the prevalence of taboos in Arab societies to ignorance, fear and weakness. Religious and political authorities invest in this atmosphere to protect themselves so as not to be judged. Thus, they strive to deceive societies that revealing these taboos will cause damage to society and lead to destruction of moral values.
Therefore, people are afraid to tackle these issues, which become ambiguous and mysterious. and the more we ignore these topics, the more fear prevails.
As for Ibrahim Salqini, he thinks that ignorance inflicts a false understanding of the real meaning of taboo (prohibition of speech and prohibition of action), whether from a religious, political or societal point of view.
He added that ignorance itself forces people to prevent practices that are not religiously, politically and morally prohibited based on the argument of conservative society.
On the other hand, some people deal with taboos simply to cause transgression and defamation instead of leading an objective debate based on scientific grounds.
Three subjects in our society are treated as sacred or irreproachable taboos such as religion, power, and sex. Some people understand that all taboos are prohibited by law and by Islamic legislations.
The authority has resorted to religious taboos to spread tyranny and ensure its continuity.
Safwan al-Jammu commented that the appointment of imams and preachers in Syria is linked to security.
He added that there was certainly no unified sermon for all the mosques in Syria. But on special occasions, preachers are obliged to deliver a certain kind of sermons; otherwise they can be exposed to sanctions.
Safwan al-Jammu noted that many preachers are only good at public speaking. However, they know nothing about humanities and legal sciences, being the authority’s only tool to exercise power and dominate society.
He added that the authority tolerated the crime by providing mitigated reasons to its perpetrators such as (honor crime).
Through the polls conducted by Rozana's correspondents, on most of the taboos of Syrian society, the majority agreed that the subjects of honor, women and sexuality are the most complex and silenced issues.
Taboos have caused more pressure on women and place them in the circle of prohibition. Society holds women more accountable than men, putting more restrictions on her and obscuring her body and private life.
Women are even prevented from speaking about politics and public issues, and in some cases they may be subjected to insults and defamation due to their opinions and attitudes.
Activist Samira al-Bho commented on this point, arguing that society holds women more accountable than men and charts a way of life for them and places them within certain rigid stereotypes from which a woman cannot escape.
Rand, a girl among the audience, said that women are raised from their young age on many values, for example, sitting next to a man is considered shameful.
"It’s forbidden to do this and that.. and to go out on the street." Once the girl gets older, the red lines get deeper.. Therefore, it’s natural that women find themselves unable to face society because the culture of sin, prohibition and shame is instilled in them from a very young age.”
During the debate, which lasted more than an hour and a half, guests, audiences, pollsters and social media actors mentioned many topics that they called "taboo", including honor killing, sexual harassment, rape, cohabitation, sex, drugs, etc.
All these topics and points will be discussed in the upcoming episodes of the Taboos Program.
A large group of activists as well as male and female journalists have worked on preparing the taboo program (mention the names)