Banias, Syria May 1-4 2013
The conflict in Syria, which began as a revolution, has spiraled into sectarian violence. Leaders from various ethnic and religious backgrounds in Syria have capitalized on a history full of cultural and structural violence to manipulate and move their followers to violence. Yet until May 1-4 2013 there has not been such outright violence, mass killings and ethnic cleansing (which some are calling it genocide).
At the heart of the violence in Banias, Syria is Mihraç Ural, an Alawite Turk with Syrian citizenship that leads the “National Resistance” militia, a shabiha subdivision. According to blog “Arab Saga” (http://arabsaga.blogspot.com/) Mihraç Ural goes by his Arabic nom de guerre: Ali at-Kayyali. In a leaked video, that made headlines Mihraç Ural said “We need to cleanse Banias of traitors at the earliest.” Supported and sitting next to Alawite religious leaders Ural continued his hate speech that brought on the killing of over 100 Sunni Muslims in the small Syrian Coastal town.
“Banias? The only exit route for those traitors is the (Mediterranean) sea.
We are Banias!
“In any case, Jableh (a nearby coastal city) is under nationalist forces control. It cannot possibly be a base or pathway for our foes.
“Sooner or later, we’re supposed to lay siege to Banias. I mean what I say: cordon off Banias and start the ethnic cleansing.
“Our mission is to liberate, cleanse and hold our ground until (regular army) troops take over.”
This was not Ural’s first hate speech YouTube video[i], in January he offered some choice words to traitors of Syria and also alluded to the need to do away with them. Hate media as we see does not happen in a vacuum but envelops a central historic and cultural pivotal time. In Ural’s hate speech, which was uploaded to Youtube making it hate-media, Ural carefully crafts his words to be full of meaning. He chooses an enemy: one that is supported by a greater enemy: Erdogon (Turkey) and Neo-Ottomans. These words are important to Alawites because they suffered oppression and cultural violence themselves from the Ottomans. This hate speech was effective, moving Ural’s militia to action because it made cultural violence look and feel right. It is justified because Alawites too have suffered at the hands of the Sunni’s (no matter if it was nearly 100 years ago). The collective memory of suffering by the Alawites is very strong and can be called upon years after the initial violence occurred to bring about mass killings as happened in Banias. In the short video Ural even mentions a history of 7,000 years, the Sumerians, the sons of Syria…etc. to make his point. His chosen words are clear that the Syrian opposition against the Assad Regime is not truly Syrian and therefore must be done away with. Hate Speech found in Ural’s hate media, is an example how the tone has changed in the Syrian conflict (Revolution to some). He uses ethno-political terms, which increase sectarianism, and thus has lead to over 100 men, women and children to be killed between May 1-4, 2013.
Here is the text below:
“The Syrian Resistance will get its revenge from every oppressor. It will chase all corrupt, traitors and infiltrators from across the border, sent by Erdogon and Neo-Ottomans. The Syrian Resistance, the Sons of Syria, the sons of the land, the sons of a 7,000 year old civilization…will not allow you… to spread in this land… to destroy it… to burn it. We are all on the look out for you… all of us. This coast is the coast of civilization of the Mediterranean Sea. This coast has repeatedly offered to humanity several civilizations. Long ago, man found this place to be one where he can enjoy an honorable livelihood and he created on it many civilizations. From the days of Sumerians and those who came before until this very day… one civilization after another…the identity of Syria has evolved, in all the mosaic that it is comprised of, in all its shapes and colors. You oppressors, whose minds are quarter empty, you traitors. Don’t even dream of descending on Lattakia and the coast. The entire coast is on the lookout for you. The coast, with the Syrian Resistance and its men, is on the lookout for you. We are all ready to get you…always ready!
Song begins “ Syria, my beloved… you gave me back my dignity, you gave me back my identity…”