Ordinary Heroes & Our Freedom, A Tribute to Bassel Shehadeh and Shady Habash, By Moulham M, Syria

I have never written in defence of a Syrian writer,

a cartoonist

a director, actor or human rights activist

My heart was always with them

But I was afraid to write

I fear the expression,

Not just for myself

But for my family

In Damascus we say:

He who does not fear God, fear him!


But my fear wasn’t the only reason,

There was something else that stopped me from expressing

I did not see myself in these activists

A selfish part of me convinced me that they were different

Brave legends understand the meaning of life

Or crazy, mindless,

Just as there are football lovers

Or for Star Wars

There are those who love revolutions and uprisings

Supports the weak in all the world

oppressed or, oppressor.


Only twice during these ten years

I felt that I was the one arrested

I was the one who was killed

Bassel Shehadeh was the first of them

Perhaps because we studied at the University of Damascus

And we dreamed of studying directing abroad

I wanted to go to France and he wanted to go to the states

He was four years older than me

we both applied to the Dox Box Film Festival in Damascus

My film did not pass the first stage of the selections

His film won the first prize

He received a scholarship to study cinema in an American university,

But he went to Homs instead,

He expected to make his best film

Bassel was a prominent advocate of nonviolence and peace,

He was killed while still believing in this idea.


The second time I cried, 

Two days ago, 

Shadi Habash,

Egyptian young filmmaker,

Twenty-two years old,

He was an ambitious, mature person.

A young man in his early twenties, full of dreams

He was the main photographer for the Red Bull commercials in Egypt,

A director and photographer in some of Mashrou’ Laila’s parties,

Sure, he would have a promising future

Shadi was not busy with politics

An ordinary person. Like me, thinks about himself and his success

He just didn’t care,

he knew the situation was bad

His friend in America asked him

To make him a video clip

For a song that mocks the president of Egypt

The belief was among the Egyptian youth

Two years ago

That Sisi will leave

Like the one before him

And the one before the one before him..

But Shadi got arrested

He was beaten

And he said it out loud

“I’m dying slowly”


Like me, everyone was afraid to talk about him,

He shouted.

“I’m standing alone in front of everything. I know that a lot of friends who love me are afraid to write about me, thinking I will be released anyway without their support. ”

But we did not support him

He did not get released, as he promised

He died,

like in movies,

like William Wallace in BraveHeart

and we

the cowards


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