The Tunisian demonstrations, which forced President Ibn Ali to flee the country, ignited similar protests in the region, reaching more than one Arabic countries, differed in their intensity and extent of popular participation in it.
The protests expanded to overreach Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Oman, Jordan and to find her way to my country; Syria
These protests reveal that all the governments and social-political regimes in the Arab countries have points of weakness and that the people have lost patience. And that the mass protests in the streets – a long forgotten toll – is a path will lead to change.
The observer for these protests in Syria will notice that they represent a call for political and social reforms, and for an increase in “freedom” and “social justice.” But an increase in sectarian incidents has quickly led to a stirring up in the cities of Lattakia and Homs, and the discussion of sectarian discord that woke up and frightened the Syrian street and called all of them to oppose this false civil discordance so that the country would not slip into the abyss of civil war. Denominational, sectarian and racial multiplicities have distinguished Syria and enriched its interactive and heterogeneous cultural architecture among its different sources from sciences, philosophies, ideologies, arts and literatures past and present.
Everyone across the country has been called to oppose and resist sectarianism and to commit to living together with different beliefs under the same umbrella. Here I found myself posing this question, was the sectarianism always ringing the bell of danger but we do not listen, or is it the fear and pain that hurt our hearts as we watch the atrocities of sectarian violence in neighboring countries?
If we have preliminary study to the history of our region in general and Syria in particular, would reveal the big role that Syria played in moderation and living in the composition of this human Mosaic that enriched our civilization and culture. I do not want to revert to history and heritage to explain what is going on in our age, but instead I want to take a living example found in our daily life and dreams represented in an artistic space (the “All Art Now” space) in which we all from different beliefs and background gathered to discuss our dreams and ideas.
Our gathering was located in an old Damascene neighborhood known for the living of Christians, Jews and Muslims from different sects and rites, and most recently also an influx of Palestinian refugees as another installment in this cultural richness, becoming a part of the social fabric.
This art space encompassed, between its walls that are eroding by the passage of time and the layers of changes that intervene on them, our dreams and our hopes and gathered us in our different religions, denominations, and racial origins. It reminds us continually that politics remains always above different human relations, but for us homeland and its issues are above any consideration.
The idea of the project
The idea attempted to gather a group of "All Art Now" artists in a workshop where the artists develop project to produce an artwork that expresses the concept of the living together and the co-existence, especially that they have worked together in different projects without paying any consideration to their different denominations and origins.
The first part of workshop includes an invitation to one professional expert in the subject of multiplicity and variety in population structures and co-existence that prevailed over the ages,
For this workshop, we invite professional experts to build open discussion with a focus on the following points:
-The general meaning of and the differences between ethnic and sectarian varieties
-General information about Syria’s population composition and the variety existing in it
-Reasons for sectarian and ethnic diversity and how it forms
-Explaining the movement of sectarianism from its political existence to religious tendencies
-The living in Syria over the ages among different sects
-Mixing of populations among different ethnic and sectarian origins
-The issue of Palestine refugees (its history, their rights, and their existence as a part of Syrian society, especially that one of our artists is Palestinian)
-The issue of Iraqi refugees, their case, and its relations, interventions, and effects
-The sectarian struggle in Lebanon and its effect on the region
-Adherence and loyalty for all the different sects and ethnicities in Syria
-The future vision for the living together in Syria
These points triggered and discussed with the group in different meetings and discussions
Otherwise, we arrange meeting and discussion with three experts:
Prof Mohammad Muhaffel. PhD in history: one of the leading academics in Syria and the retired professor of ancient history in the University of Damascus.
During the meeting, we discussed with him the ancient history of Syria, the different reasons which create diversity and multiplicity, the history of this diversity, its past, present and future, the future perspective for this diversity.
Dr. KhairyaKasmeyyah. PhD in history: one of the leading academics in Syria and the retired professor of modern history in the University of Damascus.
We discussed with her the birth and development of the Syrian state, and the role of diversity and multi sects – religions – ethnics in the shaping of the Syrian state, institutions, and society.
Dr. Dina. Haddad. PhD in international law: teacher in the University of Dundee in the UK.
We discussed with her the role of written law and legislations in protecting the diversity of the society and the rights of minorities.
And we talked with Dr. Haddad about the refugees in Syria and how the law protect their rights keeping them in the same time distinguish from the citizens.
For the second stage of the project, the artists gathered again in “All Art Now” space in the Old City of Damascus. The space has been introduced as a model of Syria where the artists represented the diverse found in Syrian society and the living and homogeneity between them.
In order to discuss and treat this vital and important issue, the artists created an atmosphere that reflects this co-existence, and contemplate the situation, looking also at future possibilities from inside this vital position in the city.
This project supported by: