Lyrical Message for Syrian Leader : ‘Come on Bashar, Leave’
Although no one in Hama seems to agree on who wrote the song, there is near consensus on one point
“We’ve all memorized it,” said Ahmed, a 40-year-old trader in
When the government derided them as infiltrators, protesters appropriated the term with pride. After Mr. Assad warned of germs in the body politic, echoing Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s dismissal of
“Come on Bashar, Leave” is more festive than funny, with an infectious refrain, chanted with the intoxication of doing something forbidden for so long
“Hey Bashar, hey liar. Damn you and your speech, freedom is right at the door. So come on, Bashar, leave.”
“It’s started to spread all over the country,” said a former Republican Guard officer who has joined the protests in
The man pulled from the river was named Ibrahim Qashoush, and he was from the neighborhood of Hadir. He was relatively unknown before July 4, when his body was found, then buried in the city’s Safa cemetery, near the highway.
Video on YouTube, impossible to verify, shows a man purported to be Mr. Qashoush with his head lolling from a deep gash in his throat. Residents say security forces shot him, too. But people in
In a rebellion whose leaders remain largely nameless and faceless, Mr. Qashoush has become somewhat celebrated in death. “The nightingale of the revolution,” one activist called him.
But the revolt remains largely atomized, with protesters in cities connected first and foremost by the Internet, and rumors have proliferated about Mr. Qashoush himself. Even in Hama, where protest leaders in one neighborhood often do not know their colleagues in another, some residents have suggested that Mr. Qashoush was not the real singer, that two men had the same name, that he was really a government informer killed by residents, that he is still alive.
One resident insisted the man killed was a second-rate wedding singer.
“Every day in the street, just while you’re sitting somewhere, you can hear five or six rumors, and they turn out to be wrong,” said an engineer who gave his name as Adnan.
Many here see the government’s hand in everything. Lists of informers have circulated, but some believe security forces compiled them, hoping to discredit protesters or smear the reputations of businessmen helping them. When residents hanged an informer last month, some people in
“We’ve heard this,” said a 23-year-old activist who gave his name as Obada.
Obada and others insisted that the song was actually written by a 23-year-old part-time electrician and student named Abdel-Rahman, also known as Rahmani. Sitting in a basement room, Rahmani celebrated what he called “days of creativity.”
As the protests in
“Come on Bashar, Leave,” followed, though he and his brother Mohammed argued for a week over whether he should keep a marginally derogatory line, “Hey Bashar, to hell with you.” It stayed, and now draws the biggest applause, cheers and laughter.
“What I say, everyone feels in their hearts, but can’t find words to express,” he said, dragging on a cigarette. “We were brought up afraid to even talk about politics.”
Like seemingly everyone here, he suffered a loss in 1982, when the army stormed
Asked if he was afraid, Rahmani answered, “Of what?”
The men offered the refrain, their faces softly illuminated by sparse streetlights.
“Come on Bashar, leave,” they chanted back.
None of them looked over his shoulder, and none whispered. No one was afraid.
“We get new thieves regularly; Shaleesh and Maher and Rami, they ripped off my brothers and uncles,” the boy’s voice went on. “So come on Bashar, leave.”
And the men’s refrain began again, in voices that felt just a little louder.
Donations can be sent to the
"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs