Monday, March 21, 2005

Karfan Exposes Syria: A New Voice in the Blogosphere

A new magical blog has appeared written by Karfan, whose name in Arabic means disgusted. It is called "Syria Exposed," but is really the rant of a very funny and painfully honest radical sensibility.

Many will criticize Karfan for being a self-hating Arab? Syrian? Alawi? Shawi? Or perhaps Third Worlder? In fact, Karfan does not have a self to hate. That is why he is so huggable. Or perhaps he has too many selves to hate properly and that is why we love him.

Anyone who has wrestled with identity or sought to resist the pull of monotheisim will find a companion in Karfan.

Saeid the Pessoptomist, the wonderfully tortured hero of Emile Habiby, has nothing on Karfan for his twisted and ultimately winning self-mockery. Perhaps the biggest difference between Saeid and Karfan is the anger.

Take a look at this passage: (Karfan is all the rage see Charles Freund at "Reason Magazine, or see Tony at Across the Bay.

Myth No.2: We have an Identity
Not a single person below 40 years old who lives in Syria has a national identity of whatever sort!! Maybe our dick-head fathers who invented the Arab Identity that we have been hammered with all our lives pretended to believe in it, but we never did, we never even bothered to pretend. WE, here, means the vast majority of the generations of Syria who were borne after the Fucking Happy Revolution in 1963. That is what they call it: A Revolution. Karfan always thought when he was growing up that "The Revolution of 8th of March" was something like the French Revolution, where masses of poor people rose against the awful King. Only later in his youth, he learned that there was no king and no masses; just a group of gangster army officers who forcefully stole the lead from a group of gangster entrepreneurs.

Karfan never met a single young Syrian who actually believed in Arabism, in term of believing that we should respect other citizens from what is called Arab World just for the sake that they are Arabs. People who live in Syria never respected each other to begin with for them to respect outsiders. We have been conditioned to say that we want to be united with Arab countries in the Gulf, but call Gulf Arabs Dickheads and have the lowest esteem towards them. We have been conditioned to say that we want to liberate Palestine, but call Palestinians Manayek (Assholes) and treat them like shit in Syria most of the time or speak behind their back as if they are invaders from another planets. Ever visited the Palestinian Camp in Latakia or Aleppo?

Karfan is an Alawi, but an ignorant one. Up until the end of high school, Karfan was a geek who never really knew what the hell is going around him. That is why Karfan's best friend at high school in Damascus was a Sunni Damascene geek, who also did not know what the hell is going around him. When at university, Karfan tried to hang out with the only person he knew from before, a Christian friend from Tartous. But this did not go beyond the first couple of months. Karfan soon noticed a definite pattern of friendship groups' formation taking shape around him: Alawis, Sunnis from Daraa, Druuz from Sueida, Sunnis from Damascus, Christians. Students from each group would only hang out with each other and rarely have anything to do with the others besides formality greetings. Soon after, he learned that this pattern is actually a mere reflection of the society in whole.

The part about university life made me laugh as it so true. I lived in the dormitories of the University of Damascus in 1981-1982. They were a microcosm of rural Syria. Damascenes live at home and don’t take rooms at the University City. Every room was a village, where sects and students from different regions rarely intersected. Druze gathered in the Druze rooms, Hamawis in the Hama rooms, Dairis in the Dair az-Zor rooms, and so on throughout the dormitory. When the odd “other” did drop in, the conversation was transformed. It became stiff, polite and filled with banalities. Only when the foreigners left would it return to the ribald and free discourse of companions. Somehow, as a total alien from another galaxy, I didn’t impinge on the planetary action of my floor and hallway. After a time, I was accepted in the various rooms, each its own little planet.

It continues:

We live all our lives with sub-national identities that range across the
spectrum of whatever religions, sects, tribes, and gangs that existed in that land. All real-believer Sunnis have an Islamic Identity that does not have the "Syria" word in it and only has the "Arab" word in it as long as that Arab = Sunni. All real-believer Christians, Alawis, Smaeelis, or Murshdis have a Christian, Alawi, Smaeeli, or Murshdi identities, whatever the fuck is that. Kurds, Druuz, Bedouins, and all other weirdo groups in this land have their own identities. All the rest, that is non-real-believers of all the above, have absolutely no sense of identity that exceeds the sense of identity of bears. You want a proof: go ask any embassy of first-world countries in Damascus how many immigration applications they have. Actually, Karfan thinks he owes bears an apology, they do have more sense of identity since they usually don't try to get out of their area nor out of their fur as Syrians try to do.
Or this:

Karfan is convinced that all those dickheads preaching about the Dying of Arabism in Syria, obviously never lived in Syria. Or as he puts it, never took a stinky microbus from a stinky half-built-house in Eishh Elwarar (an area that is the perfectly precise opposite to Beverly Hills) to a stinky governemental Istehlakya (An ingeniously fucked-up Syrian version of supermarkets, or like..., forget it, you need to see it in order to know what the hell that thing is) and wait for an hour to get a stinky 2kg of rice from a stinky employer yelling in your face. Now, only then tell me if they can find a trace of Arabism in people. They assumed that there was Arabism and they are making a living out of writing bullshit on how it is dying. In light of the absence of the above-mentioned inspirational experience, they base their wicked revelation on two wicked sources:

1. The writings of some Syrian dickheads intellectuals from the "Failure Generation", that is our fathers'. Those people want to give meaning to their failed lives in which they could not achieve what others achieved in even Burkina Faso, not mentioning Asia and elsewhere, so they write shit saying that they ""succeeded"" in: Leaving us the Legacy of Arabism. Yes in deed, they have left us that in books; we have tons of those for lucky falafel makers to wrap their sandwiches.

2. The interviewing of people in the streets by journalists and academics, which goes like this:

Happy western journalist: What identity do you believe in?

Miserable fucked Syrian: I believe in Arabic identity. Oh, and by the way, we ALL love our president.

What the fuck do you expect us to say we believe in?

"Kurds in Syria are joining the Baath party": what does Happy western academic 1 make of that? That Arabism is sooo convincing it would make people change their skin and blood.

"Kurds in Syria are revolting": what does Happy western academic 2 make of that? That Arabism is dying.

Karfan never met a single so called "Arab" that has a sense of unity or brotherhood with any other inhabitant of the other so called "Arab Countries". People who really want to fight Israelis are driven by religious animosity toward Jews not by Arabic enthusiasm. People who really want to unite with Gulf countries are driven by the wealth they think they can share not by Arabic enthusiasm. Didn't Iraqi soldiers rape and fuck every Kuwaiti woman and man while still ""saying"" that they were doing the glorious deed of Arabic Unification? (Unless they were taking that word literally). Still, Happy western journalists and academics ignored the deeds, looked at the words, and interpreted that Kuwaiti Fiesta as a product of Arabism. But wait, good news is coming: Arabism is now dying.

Who said that only Hollywood makes stories out of nothing?

It is true that we have been drummed up day and night continuously with Arabism shit, but the only successful result of this policy is that we became conditioned to speak about it. We are Arabs, we love Arabs, Arab World, Urubaa, Blablabla, Just wards! In reality, a person from Tunisia might as well be from Honolulu and it wouldn't make a damn difference for us. Syrians will tell you that they are Arab because:

1. It is the only thing we were taught to say we are. What else is to say? We never been taught or allowed to learn anything else, we never knew any other vocabularies to say.

2. It is the only thing we were allowed to say. We all know that we are just Sunnis, Alawis, Murshdees, Druuz, etc to the end of the glorious list, but we are not allowed to utter that. It is the existing truth that no one is permitted to voice.
We were not even taught or allowed to say that we are Syrians, as this would be considered a deviation from the Holy Message of our Holy Arab Homeland-to-come. Only recently under the rule of "King Lion the 2nd", God Bless His Dynasty, people were allowed to say that they are Syrians!!

This Arabism might have had its glorious days back at the time of the big idiot Shareef Hussein and his clueless sons, or back in the days of Naser Don Kichote, maybe. But for us, the Happy Generations of Syria who were borne after the Happy Revolution of 1963, it existed in words in books and is now dying in blogs. Poor Arabism!

What can one say to this, but “Arabism is Dieing!!!”


At 3/21/2005 08:37:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn, that was refreshing.


At 3/21/2005 12:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

a proud descendant of jonathan swift

At 3/21/2005 02:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everything said is so true, it is absolutely pathetic. The question is whether we should continue to take all this shit or decide it is about time we get some dignity and try to do something about it.

What is so intriguing and inexplicable is the fact that Syrians realize how they live like dogs yet they are so keen to keep their lives as they are without willing to risk their lives trying to change their Karfan reality. Over the years in Syria I have been speaking to all people I could trust trying to convince them of taking their protests to the streets yet no a single one, NOT A SINGLE FUCKEN SYRIA, agreed with me to take such path planning such a mass demonstration. In all honesty, we deserve what is happening to us considering the kind of cowards we are.

One last thing to Karfan, the stink you have been smelling all you life is not going away as long as no one is deciding to take a shower.

Fuck you all you bunch of cowards

A Lonely Young Syrian with Dignity

At 3/21/2005 03:36:00 PM, Blogger Anton Efendi said...

A reader on my site turned my attention to Karfan's blog a couple of days ago. His position on Arabism and the lack of a Syrian identity were echoed by Robert Kaplan in a WSJ op-ed yesterday. Kaplan wrote:

"Syria's pan-Arabism was a substitute for its weak identity as a state."

Karfan's tortured formulation is of course much funnier!

At 3/21/2005 03:37:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If this regime persist in this stupid way ,ignoring the essential rights of the syrian sure that the explosion is not far.

At 3/21/2005 04:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 2:42
Bad news the stinky smell will remain in your nose even if all Syrians took a shower! Try Peppermint chewinggum! It might change the odor of hate and disgust coming out of your rotten spirit. You are a desperate dilapidated mad man who knows very well inside that he won’t fit in any national identity in the ME. If you have bad breath, well you and I know it is incurable but you should know that you cannot pass it on! Give it up!

At 3/21/2005 05:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to 4:24
i think what 2:42 was using symbolism when he was talking about the shower and not in a literary sense. He is Syrian afterall.

At 3/22/2005 01:40:00 AM, Anonymous Mohamed said...

That 'Arfan guy is just great. I love it!

At 3/22/2005 01:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Diversity has nothing to do with identity. If the scattered American communities can form an American identity then the Syrians who share history, language, interests and dreams have a strong identity. I remember a freshman in my dorm calling his mother and making a big deal about his roommate: "Mom, he is BLACK!" he told me later that he NEVER spoke to a "black". That was one of my first shocks when studying in the US.

At 3/22/2005 05:20:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

if one takes a closer lok into the Syrian community today, they will realise that the Syrians are prouder of their nationality today than they were in the last 20-30 years. it is true that life in Syria is not up to standard, but with the wars In Iraq and Palastine, people are having very strong feelings. 'im an arab, im proud of it, Americans, bring it on, because we dont like you, and you dont scare us.' and this is not the feeling of baathists, this is more the view of middle upper class, kids who have been studying abroad... so no, not every one hates their country, they would rather have their leadership than be ruled by their americans.

At 3/22/2005 05:48:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am anti-Baath, anti-dictatorship and pro-democracy, but at the same time a PROUD ARAB and PROUD SYRIAN. I agree with anonymous 1:56, we have a strong identity that existed long before Baath did. People, we don't have to lose our dignity and pride if we want make progress. We can do it with our heads up high.

At 3/22/2005 10:34:00 AM, Anonymous Minhduc Phan said...

This Karfan dude is hilarious. We need more political comment of this kind. This is how I felt when I was living under Communism in Vietnam but I was nowhere as expressive or funny.

At 3/22/2005 02:36:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Karfan is not only funny but he is also right. Did anybody have read Albert Hourani book "History of Arab People"?. His study and analysis make it clear that not only Arab People lived in Syria and other Middle Eastern countries. It is a mix of a lot of nationalities lived there, proven by the history of the region, which was governed by all kinds of nationality from Arab and others as far as Kazakhstan east and Barbers to the west. It is also insulting to call or to introduce myself as an Arabian where all I know that I born in Syria. I don't know for sure who are my ancestors in a mixed nationalities like this place. Saying that I am a Syrian will suffice and give the respect and pride to be from a place where multiple civilization have flourished, and usually out of respect to all communities, religious factions and others (who we shared one land and been fed from it), it is most appropriate to be proud where your father and mother are from.

At 3/22/2005 03:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Karfan is nothing more than a sick person and does not know what he is talking about. I think Karfan and people like him need to check into a mental institution and get help. God may save Syria from people like him.

At 3/22/2005 03:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I happen to agree whole-heartedly with this Karfan dude. He has dared to expose what most Syrians know - either consciously or intuitively. Besides, I do believe that Karfan hits it on the head by bringing to the fore issues that are thus far outside the realm of discussion. These issues (Arabism, identity, sectarianisms, etc.) are considered "mussallamat" (Givens) in Syria, yet they are not. They are, in fact, points of contention, when one dares argue them. And, finally, shedding light on them in such a satirical way is so traditionally Damascene in its style, for those of us who know. More power to you, Karfan!

At 3/22/2005 04:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Karfan is unusual for people in the Middle-East because of the self-deprecating humor, but that should start with self (as in person)-deprecating humor. There are many jokes about the Baath party and about Pan-Arabism (and Nasserism, and the Syrian people poor knowledge of foreign languages -thank you Noureddine Atassi- and of foreign cultures, and of Lebanese cultural arrogance and snobism) that are out there since 1950 or earlier. The point is: all of this is humor. But Karfan is too young, and he has made statements (though supposed to be humoristic) that he would not have made if he knew better. I have found better self-deprecating humor among Alawi expats, but they don't have a blog to publish (yet they share with me, a Lebanese man).

At 3/22/2005 08:05:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too bad Edward Said isn't around to read this fellow. The good professor's head would have blow up in a thousand pieces.

At 3/22/2005 08:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arabism only exists in Columbia University and Juan Cole's imagination.... it is the toilet paper of today's generation of Syrians; it feels good to use it, but is promptly discarded once the shit has passed

-- Oubai S. RPS

At 3/23/2005 04:00:00 AM, Anonymous Ibrahim said...

Myth Number 1: The Syrian Secret Services are in Lebanon to protect peace and stability and not promote Syrian Governement's and Mafia's Interests.

The Syrian/Lebanese Intelligence Services have struck again: It is clear that the latest Kaslik bombing as well as the New Jdeideh bombing are nothing more than scare tactics. They're occurring at night to show people what the Syrian/Leb agents are capable of without inflicting maximum casualties. Obviously this is a message to the oppossition to tone down its rhetoric. Since this message will not be tolerated by the opposition, they will probably escalate their attacks at one point or another to inflict more human losses (i.e. crowded daytime locations). And of course, the Lebanese security services will never find out who's behind these attacks because they'll be chasing their own tail.

At 3/23/2005 06:12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ibrahim is back with his illusions and fantasies. Welcome back, long time no see!

At 3/23/2005 01:31:00 PM, Anonymous Ibrahim said...

Eat d!ck fvckface ;)

At 3/27/2005 03:20:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I am Lebanese (Young professional) and watching Histroy unfolds. Believe me we have nothing against the Syrian People, on the contrary, but your regime needs to go AWAY !!! NOW.
I leave you with these 2 quotes one is from Benjamin Franklin the father of the US Constitution (I know some of you are sensitive to anything US, but they too had great men who believed in eternal and timeless principles) he said:
"Those who would sacrifice essential liberties for a little temporary safety deserves neither liberty nor safety."

And I leave you with another one from a Rahbani Brothers Play (I think it was Jbel El Souwwan)
"Ma fi Hbouss Tsse3 kil el Nass" ... there aren't enough prisons to hold all the people !!!

At 3/30/2005 03:00:00 PM, Anonymous George M. said...

Hi, I'm a Syrian who, like most others, is shocked by the Lebanese reaction during this latest crisis. I know that not all Lebanese hate Syrians and I also know that some Syrians made mistakes in Lebanon (as well as in Syria). Still, I am shocked and hurt by the reactions of both the elite and the average Lebanese. After all, I thought that the people-to-people relations should be immune from government mistakes. Apparently not! I am most wounded by the murderous attacks on the 35 (or more) poor Syrian workers who themselves are victims of the unbalanced relationship between the two governments. What is their fault? Why should they be punished for the mistakes of other Lebanese and Syrians with powerful interests?

I feel a strong sentiment in Syria and I believe most Syrians support me in calling for closing the border with Lebanon. Leave the Lebanese to their fate. Let them kill each other and destroy their country, if they do. We should pull our money and investments out, we should not spend a single lira in Lebanon and we should close our markets to Lebanese workers, commerce and products. Let's see how long these rats can go before they crawl back to Damascus. It is obvious to anyone with a secondary school education that the Lebanese economy cannot survive in isolation from Syria. Syria represents their major market, their major customer base and their conduit to the rest of the Arab world. We should close our border and detach ourselves from their political, economic and security affairs totally. Then, they can go back to the industry they excel at: prostituting themselves and their country to the Gulfies and anyone else with a dollar!

Our leaders should have known better...a people who can betray each other and kill their families, friends and neighbors for a decade and a half is not capable of being grateful to anyone - even their saviours. Khaled Azm said it best almost 50 years ago: Nazlouli hal-khashabeh ba'a!

At 3/30/2005 07:18:00 PM, Anonymous arabian said...

i was watching a video that showed a lady in the bekaa valley with
hijab in the afuen field and i wondered how is that possible in islam then i thought they must of doctored the book again as they have beem doing for years and get away with it just by keeping people in the dark in isolation they tell you what you suppose to know and if any one try to expose you to freedom you must believe that it is a conspiracy or you are a deffect

At 4/01/2005 02:01:00 PM, Anonymous Ibrahim said...


You criticize extremists yet you are calling for extreme actions. By doing so, you're no better than them.

At 4/07/2005 02:16:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 4/07/2005 02:28:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 4/07/2005 02:36:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 4/07/2005 02:47:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...


I am Lebanese but with some family in Syria. I only say this to tell you that I am not part of those who hate Syria but who hate Syria's doing in Lebanon.

But when you say that Syria brought peace to Lebanon you are simply ignoring facts.

What Syria (or the baathist regime to be more exact) did in Lebanon is transforming a free and prosperous society in a retarded thirld word regime.

May I remind you that Syria took an active role in igniting sectarians fighting in Lebanon by arming and infiltrating Palestinians militia after they were expelled from Jordan in 1970? These people didn't make it to Lebanon without Syrian approval. Do you remember the 1969 Cairo agreement which was the start of the civil war was imposed on Lebanon by Syria and Nasser?

This agreement forced the lebanese to accept palestinians resistance to operate freely in Lebanon. Unfortunately Palestinians tended to resist more against lebanon than against Israel.

Why was the Palestinian resistance forbid to operate from Syria remains a (not so) big mystery to me.

These champions of panarabism knew that democratic Lebanon posed a greater threat to them than Israel. Most of their opponents were refugees in Beirut.

Do you have any idea what Syrian troops and moukhabarat did in Lebanon these last thirty years?

The fact that almost all anti-syrian attacks took place in sunni and shia areas in Lebanon must incite you to be more realistic. Lebanese muslims do not want to leave in a mini-Syria. Even the shiaas.

I agree that these attacks on syrian workers are stupid and meaningless but they are done by people who feel that their destiny has been stolen but the syrian regime. And with over 500,000 workers in Lebanon and 'zionist' bombs exploding here and there, some people get nervous.

Worse is that you know it as much as we do but you don't want to recognize it. You remind me of the syrians I know and who trust me enough to openly talk with me. You are brainwashed.

There were always strains between Lebanese communities. But no fighting before ur government decided to 'help' us. We had a system were we could resolve our differences. At least we could discuss between ourselves without the 'being polite thing' that Karfan refers to. Even now, lebanese still discuss their problems between them though to a lesser degree.

Finally if you don't want to spend your syrian rupees in Lebanon, I know that there are a lot of cool places in Damascus to do it. You can always put it in syrian banks (whataver that is).

Anyway you should be happy. US cut the iraki pipeline (2 billions $ less for Bacho )and now the lebanese treasure (or what is left of it) is saying bye-bye. The survival of your regime is at a stake here. If you were intelligent you'll know which side to chose.



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