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Syria, social media and the failure of our collective memory

While the photos currently coming out of Houla look like scenes of an apocalypse, anyone with Syrian friends or connections has seen equally horrifying videos and photos circulating on Facebook or Youtube…

Bodies are prepared for a mass funeral at Houla, Syria on the weekend.

While the photos currently coming out of Houla look like scenes of an apocalypse, anyone with Syrian friends or connections has seen equally horrifying videos and photos circulating on Facebook or Youtube for the past year. (I’ve refrained from linking to the Youtube clips as they are truly distressing to watch.)

For all of the genuine utterances of revulsion and dismay at the terrible, terrible images of broken and dismembered little bodies that peppered our newspapers this week, our hand-wringing over the Houla massacre nevertheless sounds disingenuous.

It should not – it should never – have come to this. At least 10,000 (by the most conservative estimates) civilians died when Bashar Al Assad’s father crushed an uprising in the early 1980s in Hama. PBS called it “one of the bloodiest chapters of modern Arab history”.

I do not begrudge the disgust, or doubt the veracity of people’s reactions to the photos from Houla. When you look at the Houla photos it’s perfectly understandable to ask what sort of monster could do this to his own people or what type of human being could slit a child’s throat. It’s just that we’ve forgotten – or we never knew – that Syria has been ruled by a family of monsters and its extended support network for decades.

While I am young enough not to remember Hama, I am old enough to remember Bosnia. In particular, I remember a picture of the body of a boy of about seven or eight lying face down on a Sarajevo street, blood pouring out from under his head while two UN peacekeepers stood nearby, impotent, helpless, and ironic – as if to symbolise the toothlessness of their organisation with its noble aims.

The breakup of Yugoslavia took place less than two decades ago, but in terms of how we communicate and react, it was a completely different world. It was one in which there was no Facebook where we could vent our grief and horror as we shared and re-shared the appalling photos. There was no Twitter for rapper Chris Brown to proclaim “not cool” after hashtagging Sarajevo to his nine million followers, or for the rest of us to implore the taking of action to stop Assad’s thugs from continuing to unleash the rivers of civilian blood that will one day mark his legacy. This time, we have no excuse.

It was the photo of the Bosnian kid that I thought of, when the images from Houla came out. The gutsy front page of the Independent on Sunday 27 May – one of the bravest front pages I’ve ever seen – slammed the international community for “averting its gaze” when it came to Syria. We looked away from Hama in 1982, and we’re looking away now. And so it plays out like Sarajevo, or Groundhog Day, or a scratched CD.

Condemnations have been uttered by the dozen by world leaders, the UN security council has met, and (after Russia and China came to the party) it has come to a resolution denouncing the violence. The Arab League will hold an emergency meeting and effectively do nothing. And just as men in blue berets stood helplessly while Bosnian children were being slaughtered, not one of these things will bring relief to Syrians, at least not in the immediate future.

In the Islamic worldview, du’a or prayer is thought of as a shield and a source of comfort for believers.

I have (as a Muslim and a human being) run out of words on Syria - so livid am I with anger and sadness that I do not even know what to make du’a for, in either the real world, or on Twitter.

Join the conversation

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Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. Yoron Hamber

    Thinking

    You are probably right in that it is 'power politics' that will decide when to react. One might hope that organizations as the UN would be able to present a united force but the UN are made up by its member states, all with different political agendas. In Bosnia a lot was left to the individual commanders of the different peace forces that was there. I'm proud to state that we Swedes did react when we were there, and I'm immensely proud of those that served.

    They believed in the idea behind the organization, but without a commander daring to take the initiative, only adapting to diverse political demands, and those changing with whatever agendas that seems important for the moment human rights, and lives, will be wasted.

    But I hope that will change.

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  2. Brad Stringer

    logged in via Facebook

    I suppose the hardest thing for me Nasya is to see the brutality, to know that I cannot comprehend the suffering of a parent holding a murdered child and to think the best I can do is to send my local MP an email... impotence indeed.

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    1. Wei Ling Chua

      Freelance Journalist and Author at Self Employed

      In reply to Brad Stringer

      Brad can do more by subscription to Alternative Media such as Global Research: http://www.globalresearch.ca/ and American Based AlterNet: http://www.alternet.org/. These sites will provide you analysis with links, videos, and documentation of events and incidents not reported or censored by the mainstream media. You will find that they are usually the first to report something days or months or even years before the mainstream media begin to acknowledge them. Project Censored by an American University…

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    2. Brad Stringer

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Wei Ling Chua

      W Chua, I feel you miss my point. My reading of an alternative news sourece does little to aid the suffering of others caught up in all of this.

      The first limb of Brian Stoddart's appraisal catches me: frustration at the crap things that go on all over the world... that keep going on!

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  3. Sean Lamb

    Science Denier

    I clicked on this hoping I would see an intelligent balanced discussion about social media forming a sort of "echo chamber of hate", with people just hearing the views and atrocities that support the narrative of their ethnicity. And the failure of collective memory was the complete silence of the international media of to mention the massacres in the Alawite villages al-Shoumariyeh of 11 children and more a number of adults the day before
    [WARNING: Graphic pictures in this link]
    http://www.sana.sy/eng/337/2012/05/26/421559.htm

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    1. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      5 minutes and the first red thumbs down.

      All right, I recant. The deaths of Alawite children are less newsworthy. Hope that makes the PC crowd happy.

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    2. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Did you look at the red Khmer's. I saw a program recently in where on of the younger generation went around interviewing those that killed. It seems as if the the 'elite' didn't even give direct orders. People assumed that this was their wish, which was correct as they saw those protesting as agents for Vietnam, who the elite were afraid was going to invade. I'm suspecting this a very human way of adapting inside a hierarchy,the more ruthless the hierarchy, the more violent the means by wich those…

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  4. Yuri Pannikin

    Director

    Yes, a very sad situation indeed. As always, 'talk is cheap' at the UN and in pontificating countries.

    The 'non-interventionists' have to decide what they want. Blathering on fixes nothing. NATO could help, but without the US or Britain to guide them, nothing will be done.

    And that's the lesson of Bosnia and Iraq: You sit by and talk cheap, or you try to do something when a dictator is killing his own people. But war is never kind to civilians, and the stupid, naive media and anti-war dills will play up every civilian life lost in any intervention.

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  5. William Bruce

    Artist

    The questions that must be asked are, who is providing the huge Money, arms & other support to the anti-Govt rebels? (& who will profit from all this)?

    This "emotional" article seems to me to be calling for a new war against the Syrian Govt (AND it's supporters).....

    Another call for us to "help these poor people"(ie Help the murdering rebels into power). ...yet again, a call to "help these people", like we helped them in the Iraq invasion (based wholly on lies)...and Libya (where the violence…

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    1. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to William Bruce

      William wrote: ". . . we will aim for positive social change through friendship & commerce not more wars. "

      Is that all you've got? Seriously, is that your response? Why do anti-war people always end up on the side of dictators? I understand it's a complex situation, and Assad is no doubt fighting salafists as well as democrats, but you have nothing to say other than blather.

      And it was not a lie that Saddam murdered upward of 400,000 of his own people. Is that the price of social order?

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    2. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      Yuri you ask me, "Why do anti-war people always end up on the side of dictators?"

      I suppose I could say, it's better to live under a bad Govt. than get bombed by the Americans.

      I am not "anti-war" but I am "anti-wrongful wars".
      There is massive money in all these wars of choice.
      I suggest you research the Bilderberg Group for some insight.

      Also, I propose we can do far more good negotiating with "Dictatorships & Bad Govts" than bombing them & financing revolutions against the in their countries.
      Clearly this radicalises their people, destroys their facilities and retards their progress for better lives in almost every way.

      I am guessing you are not one that is likely to be harmed by foreign interventions in Syria.

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    3. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to William Bruce

      @William,

      I agree.. the road forward has to be through consultation.. the violent rebels are just that and once in power will probably use more violence because that is all they know..

      I saw the Russian and chinese response as very responsible..

      lets learn to comunicate rather than just start another fight

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    4. Wei Ling Chua

      Freelance Journalist and Author at Self Employed

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Joseph appear to know a lot more than those who rely on the mainstream media for information. Since the communist took over China, they begin a series of negotiations with all their 14 neighbors on border issues, and had successfully settle 17 of the 23 disputes with Beijing offer "substantial compromises in most of these settlements" and "control over less than half of the contested land." [http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/china-furthers-washingtons-cause-the-south-sea-6155]; The unfortunate thing is, Western media tend to portray China as aggressor in any claim. Just like the recent stand off with the Philippines: http://outcastjournalist.com/index_files/understand_south_china_sea_standoff_via_filipino_media.htm.

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    5. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Yes, good idea . . . "communicate" -- what a breakthrough!

      And thank God (?) for the Russians and the Chinese . . . with such a history of altruism and democracy, they will surey have the right idea.

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    6. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to William Bruce

      Depends what sort of "foreign intervention" we see.... The Libyan intervention seemed to be done with a pretty light touch and strategically.

      I for one would not want the yanks anywhere near Syria at all. ... but at least it would stop the Syrians killing each other and give them Americans to shoot at.

      I think the only feasible option would be a proper UN force made up largely of Arab countries and Africans to hold the line there. Peacemakers not peace keepers. I suspect things are far too…

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    7. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Oh right . . . without the US, the Libyan "intervention" was not going to happen, so you're contradicting yourself. US logistics support was required, even without troops on the ground.

      And let's take a wager in the ether. Come back here in 6 months and see if the Syrian situation is settled without the big dogs -- US and Britain.

      With all due to respect to peacekeepers from the Arab world and Africa, that cannot work, Peter. It's not about "learning something", it's about military training and support.

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    8. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      I'm not actually a big fan of "interventions" Yuri. But I did think the Libyan no flight zone and subsequent limited ground engagements were quite effective. Not that I reckon this would necessarily be viable here ... I don't know enough of the terrain and the regional differences and the like to suggest a strategic approach.

      I'm not saying the yanks or other "Western Powers" would not be involved - just not on the ground. They make too good a target and - to be blunt - they are no good at…

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    9. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, I see. You want the yanks' logistics and comms power and not the other? Sorry but the big guard dog comes with four legs and you can't just have two. That's the way the military is, and the beast does not work with only two legs -- because they all work together.

      And so Coral Sea, Invasion of Europe, Korea, Bosnia, but not Vietnam or Iraq or Afghanistan?. Okay, I get it; you wan to pick this but not that.

      BTW, car and suicide bombs did not originate in Iraq. The US and French Lebanon barracks were truck-bombed in 1983 and 300 US and French peacekeepers were killed. And it went on from there -- USS Cole, Kenya, Tanzania, 9/11. Iraq did not invent terrorism, and the argument that it encouraged terrorism has no basis in fact whatsoever.

      BTW, let's see what Iraq is like in two years, but then you never did answer that question I asked you previously about whether you would prefer Saddam and his mad sons to be still in power.

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    10. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      They work from a doctrine of 'overwhelming force' Peter :) Much as the Russians do Yuri.

      And it works. but I don't know if they are that good at the aftermath? To their defense one has to add that it must be very hard to change ones attitude and appearance, from one day to the other. And it probably goes both ways, with the ingenious population avoiding those that invaded, even if in the best of meanings. 'Hearts and minds' as the British calls it. That's what's needed both before and after as I believe. Construction instead of demolition

      But what about the Arab countries themselves? Wouldn't that be better?

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  6. Brian Stoddart

    Distinguished Fellow, Australia-India Institute at University of Melbourne

    It seems to me there are two separate strands here

    The first is collective frustration at global inaction over intolerable situations. There is regrettably a long history here. In the last century we have the examples of the League of Nations and its successor the UN. There is, in a sense, nothing new about the Houla story, ghastly as it is - there are very clear power politics reasons why this inaction recurs, and in this case it is the toxic mix of local rule, regional power plays, sectarian…

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    1. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Brian Stoddart

      "There is no intervention in Syria"....how do you know this? Who do you think is financing the rebels?....NB Libya.

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  7. Peter Ormonde

    Farmer

    What a stark contrast to the intervention in Libya. And I cannot understand why.

    I suspect - am hearing solid reports - that there is substantial foreign intervention in Syria at a grassroots level - with Sunni and Shia fighters coming in from Iraq and Iran, that there is an increasing al Qaeda involvement that is well organised ... all sorts of justifications for a failure to intervene.

    Syria runs the very real risk of becoming a regional rather than national brawl - between ethnic religious…

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  8. Brian Stoddart

    Distinguished Fellow, Australia-India Institute at University of Melbourne

    A fair point William Bruce, my comment should have specified "Western intervention". It has been clear for a very long time, as demonstrated by International Crisis Group reports and even by the UN itself that there has been "international" activity and presence inside Syria. Part of the problem has been a failure to recognise this, especially in the early phase when the collective rush was to belt Bashar - this should not in any way be seen as an apology for the regime, but a simple statement…

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  9. Anthony Nolan

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    Nasya is old enough to remember the slaughter in Bosnia. Unfortunately I am old enough to remember the slaughter in Vietnam and the graphic images that captured its essence in particular the photo of napalmed Kim Phuc (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8678478.stm). On and on since then, it never ceases.

    So, Nasya, you don't know to whom to pray or for what any more? Good. That's a big step on the path to being a rationalist modern. A cold place, to be sure, but better that than to be a partisan for war:

    The First World War, boys
    It came and it went
    The reason for fighting
    I never did get
    But I learned to accept it
    Accept it with pride
    For you don't count the dead
    When God's on your side.

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    1. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      "So, Nasya, you don't know to whom to pray or for what any more?"
      No - you misread the article. "I do not even know what to make du’a for" - not who to pray to.

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    2. Wei Ling Chua

      Freelance Journalist and Author at Self Employed

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      The image of the naked Vietnamese girl is a typical type of western propaganda to justify their killing of millions and millions more after the war due to the continue effect of Agent Orange. 1st world war is technically a European war, 2nd world war is started by the west again. Since the 2nd world war, virtually most all the wars are directly or indirectly related to the West. I don't understand this kind of war mongering culture at all. Anthony should keep GOD out of all this as GOD in many instant is part of the element of world conflict. Keep is kind heart instead.

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    3. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Wei Ling Chua

      It's true that neither the religious nor secular worlds can claim the moral high ground, when it comes to armed conflict.

      Interestingly, the picture of the Vietnamese girl fleeing her napalm-hit village has been credited with changing a lot of Americans' minds about the Vietnam war.

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    4. Anthony Nolan

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Wei Ling Chua

      Couldn't agree more W Chua. Keeping deities out of it would be a good start.

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    5. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      Not sure what denigrating someone's faith adds to the discussion, but as per earlier response to W Chua, neither the religious nor secular worlds can claim any type of moral high ground as far as conflict is concerned. "If there was no religion in the world = there'd be no war" is patently naive.

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    6. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      True.

      War is mostly about resources of different kinds, but having different religions help immensely explaining why it is so good to join up, and depending on ones society it still works, as it seems at least?

      Look at US of A for example :)
      As well as the the Middle East.

      As I see it that is.
      That on the other hand has nothing to do with deep personal convictions. People having that might be those most resilient to the state urgings, wanting them to go to war. I'm talking about 'organized religion' there, not peoples personal beliefs.

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    7. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      Eh. resistant was the word I was thinking of above, not 'resilient'. Never trust a spellchecker, and let that be a lesson to you all :)

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    8. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Wei Ling Chua

      Thanks for the links. Equally, wars have been fought over completely non-religious reasons (political ideologies, natural resources, nationalism, revenge...)

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    9. Anthony Nolan

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      Oh, I'm quite ecumenical when it comes to denigrating faith.

      Your claim that the secular world, where secular means not religiously affiliated, has no moral high ground when it comes to conflict is historically unsustainable - deities has always been invoked by combatants. If you can think of an irreligious conflict, that is, a significant conflict conducted by opposing sides of atheists or secularists, do let me know.

      In a genuinely secular democracy, not Australia for example where faith…

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    10. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      So Assad is cracking down on rebels for religious reasons and not secular ones, the US invaded Vietnam because of a religious threat, the Afghan and Iraq wars were started by the US for religious motivations, the Civil War was due to religion, Hitler wanted to rule Europe on faith grounds, and the Khmer Rouge pogroms were due to theology.

      (Re Syria, I'm not referring to Assad's lunatic conspiracy theories about unnammed al Qaeda groups trying to destabilise his country - but the real reasons for his military crackdown).

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    11. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      "War is mostly about resources of different kinds"

      This. Often people confuse religion as the reason for a conflict when in reality it's the scapegoat.

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    12. Anthony Nolan

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      No. Emphatically not to your first para. If you've faith, your ideas and actions are faith based. The idea that a faith based believer can somehow have faith based actions and thoughts and non-faith based actions and thoughts stretches credulity and allows for the sort of moral escape routes all too familiar today.

      You cannot substitute a materialist political analysis of the causes of war, like a decision to go to war "over resources", for the very real understandings that the actors themselves…

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    13. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      Mmm, splitting hairs, and a pretty dismal effort at it. Saying the US invasion of Iraq constitutes a religious conflict because of Blair's and Bush's statements about their own individual faiths shows outstanding naivete about both the declared (weapons of mass destruction) and undeclared (oil) reasons for the war. Dismissing or ignoring real secular reasons for conflict in order to attribute imaginary religious ones? Hashtag massive fail.

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    14. Anthony Nolan

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      I'm sorry young person but saying "hashtag massive fail" is not a persuasive argument. It might be for anyone who thinks you can say something meaningful in 140 characters, but not me.

      Back to the point which is that I'm not at all dismissing the geopolitical reasons why war is engaged. Far from it. But ignoring the other reasons falls into the trap of crude Marxists who thought that all of social life was arraigned around a base/superstructure model. In this model the forces of production constituted…

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    15. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      I thought you were joking a little at first, reading you Anthony?
      But I can see that you're serious here. So you think that God only care for a western world then? Or maybe that to be born in a western society gives us the right to tell everyone else how to behave, especially as we have God on our side?

      When I look at the world i see a big clash, but not between religions primary.It's between ideologies, ideals, and ideas of freedom. Religion is just the club used to vindicate ones beliefs. When one place God on one side one also refuse him the right exist for us all that believes..I don't think he would agree to that.

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    16. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      There is an old saying "Stir up water to catch fish".
      And moreover,... "He who rides the tiger can never dismount".

      However, my current theory is, it has nothing to do with any religion & it is MAINLY not about resources at all....there are plenty of examples of people of all religions living together happily for 1000's of years and recent wars with no resources at stake...BUT some big profits from the costs of the wars have been made.....Where? I guess money lending, currency issuance control…

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    17. Anthony Nolan

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      Yoron, I think you are misreading me. The reference to "with god on our side" is to a Dylan song of that title which is an anti-war anthem, deeply and bitterly critical of the role of (western) religion in justifying and sanctifying war. Myself, as an atheist Buddhist anarchist, I've no faith.

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    18. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      @Nasya,

      Imaginary religious reasons? are you saying that there are absolutely no religious motivations in lets say Al Qaeda, Talaban or lost count the number of Jihad freedom fighters?

      regardless of what we believe is happening in syria, we are only guessing and the best thing we can do is add reason to the melting pot rather than stir more anger and fighting..

      have we not seen what happens when war breaks out, nobody wins.. look at egypt is it any better now? Look at Iraq, even as bad as Saddam was look at what is happening there now between sunni and shitites?

      did the Iranian revolution make the country any be

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    19. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      You are mixing two things into one there Anthony.
      Organized religion is no different from joining a 'state'.

      Personal faith on the other hand can carry you through the valley of death.
      As proven in concentrations camps.

      Don't mistake one for the other.

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    20. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      "Imaginary religious reasons? are you saying that there are absolutely no religious motivations in lets say Al Qaeda, Talaban or lost count the number of Jihad freedom fighters?"

      Absolutely not, so please refrain from putting words into my mouth.

      My post is a direct response to Anthony's claim that the motivations of the Iraq invasion could be attributed to religious reasons.

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    21. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      "I'm sorry young person but saying "hashtag massive fail" is not a persuasive argument. It might be for anyone who thinks you can say something meaningful in 140 characters, but not me."
      Yes, because the whole post simply consisted of "hashtag massive fail" - selective much?

      "Back to the point which is that I'm not at all dismissing the geopolitical reasons why war is engaged."
      Good - which brings us back to the first point that neither the secular nor religious worlds can claim the moral high ground when it comes to starting conflicts.

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    22. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      "If they are real to you then you are implicated in faith based contributions to war. If they are not real, if they are mere ideology as you seem to imply, then why not renounce faith?"
      Straw man argument - another hashtag massive fail. By "imaginary" I was referring to the attribution of a religious motivation on the part of the US for its invasion of Iraq, not to faith based contributions to war as a whole - so your attempt to extrapolate a specific term to a general phenomenon is either ignorance, or being wilfully obtuse, on your part.

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    23. Anthony Nolan

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      Fair enough of you to say that. I'm sorry to have subjected you and others to the crude process of 'working through' a few ideas. The crux of the problem, for me, was Nasya's inability to perform du'a. This is a matter of private and faith based practice and belief. I'm not sure what relevance any faith based ideas have in the public sphere where, as here on The Conversation for example, there is something of an experiment going on around deliberative democracy.

      If we accept the legitimacy of…

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    24. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      "However, I think it is fair to do so while ever faith based thinkers cite their beliefs as a source of moral authority in deliberative discussions in the public sphere"
      That's your problem - you assume citing a belief is a source of moral authority #presumptuous which is why you take offence at a declaration of a religious practice.

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  10. Mat Hardy

    Lecturer in Middle East Studies at Deakin University

    I am not quite sure what the angle of this whole story is. That social media is a good or bad thing? That more or less people cared about Bosnia? That gross out photos are or aren't important for spreading the word about conflict? That public outrage is or isn't required for action?

    My own recollections of the Yugoslavian meltdown are decidedly analogue. A teenage Bosnian boy in a refugee centre in Zagreb thrusting a stack of photos into my hand. They were of people from his village who had had their ears cut off and then been killed. He said to me "You have to show the world. They are killing us."

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    1. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Mat Hardy

      Wish I knew what it all is about too Mat..
      Where you there as a reporter?

      As for social media I'm distrustful.
      Everyone seems to assume that it is safe to use them but what they do is to hang out friends, themselves and relatives, for anyone interested. And you can buy that information if you're to lazy to track what you're interested in. It's like what all secret agencies in the world ever has dreamed of, coming true.

      People freely stepping forward to tell them everything about themselves, and friends..

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    2. Wei Ling Chua

      Freelance Journalist and Author at Self Employed

      In reply to Mat Hardy

      Social media can be dangerous to social harmony. Remember the two Chinese students been bashed in Sydney, China government did not demonise Australia. They only request that the Australian Police to “dealt with "quickly and appropriately", and tell their citizens that Australia is still a safe place for foreign students: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2012-05-10/chinese-students-denounce-racial-violence-after-sydney-attack/941768;

      Based on their censorship criteria, they deleted…

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    3. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Wei Ling Chua

      yes,

      compare China's response with the response for indian students which turned what was otherwise a criminal isolated incident into all Australians are racist!

      Social media can be too reactive and unthoughtful..

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    4. Wei Ling Chua

      Freelance Journalist and Author at Self Employed

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Unfortunately Joseph, China is the victim of Western funded "dissidents" through all kind of channels including NED, their only job is to smear against their own country and stir problem. UK Telegraph is one of the rare western media that allow the truth to be reported about Dalai Lama: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/robcrilly/100158051/why-do-people-hear-wisdom-in-the-dalai-lamas-empty-rhetoric-and-meaningless-tautologies/; This report by Christian Science tell the effect of hate message via social media that stir discontent in Tibet: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/robcrilly/100158051/why-do-people-hear-wisdom-in-the-dalai-lamas-empty-rhetoric-and-meaningless-tautologies/ with a statement: "If you say the government is not treating us well, that's not completely true."

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    5. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Wei Ling Chua

      Well, as China invaded Tibet I can see why Dalai Lama is a uncomfortable voice :) Even though he wants a dialog opened only, as I understands it?

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    6. Wei Ling Chua

      Freelance Journalist and Author at Self Employed

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      Hello Yoron, the history of Tibet as part of China is far longer than the entire history of Australia, America, Canada and New Zealand. Check out the map in the British National Library for info at the time they entered China to sales Opium to confirm that fact. The British invasion of Tibet in 1903 with the killing of hundreds of monks is the cause of the problem, And UK government had already publicly apologise to China in 2008 over the invasion and officially acknowledge that Tibet belong to China: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/tibet/3385803/UK-recognises-Chinas-direct-rule-over-Tibet.html, Unfortunately, again, hardly any western media reported this news except the UK Telegraph. Ignorant of history is the problem with many western public. Sorry to say that.

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    7. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Wei Ling Chua

      @Chua,

      Tibet has moved on and now with China it enjoys the benefits of being part of one of the world's emerging powers.. Like every soceity there are winners and losers.. now i believe far greater proportion of the population are winners than it would otherwise been.

      I have been to China and have seen first hand how great China has become.. It is true that Chinese people are a mostly gentle people, happy and enjoy life.. that has been my experience there..

      of course every country has it's challenge and china is no exception.. but at the moment their ability to act unilaterally on climate change and infrastructure with a government that seems to care for it's people has given them a serious advantage.

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    8. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Oh, puleeease . . . Joseph. Good job those Tibetan massacres, not to mention Tiananmen . . .?

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    9. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Wei Ling Chua

      No, I'm not going to argue about Chinas and Tibet's shared heritage and connections :) I agree on that, although Tibetan Buddhism is somewhat special. But as I remember it Tibet was a nation, not a vassal state? And you can't invade another nation just because you and them share a lot of cultural ties, can you? Although I better point out that all 'super powers' through history seems to do that, now and then, just as you say.

      But I don't find it excusing it, even though it might be an explanation.

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    10. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Wei Ling Chua

      And I agree. The British behaved very arrogantly 1903, and China was the place where the Dalai Lama fled finally,;but then again, at that time the British was the 'Super Power' so?

      What does it prove Mr Chua?

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  11. Philip Brentnall

    Retired

    A brother-in-law of mine told his children to watch their own behaviour rather than criticise others. I believe that advice should also apply to countries, so that rather than "tut tut" or send armed troops to "keep the peace", we might do better by ensuring we supply no weapons or support to any country or organization involved in the fracas. Invading another country should only be an act of defence, after that country has attacked us.

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    1. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Philip Brentnall

      That was what was implemented in Bosnia, killing a awful lot of people that found themselves forced to turn to 'black markets' and gunrunners to get their guns. I don't like guns either, there should be better ways, but to disarm one part of the population leaving the other to have guns won't bring peace, it only brings injustice. And that injustice will be shared by all parties refusing people the right to defend their homes and loved ones.

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  12. Jenny Mountford

    Community Nurse

    Will things ever change? It seems throughout history that humans have massacred humans for power and greed. No amount of public outrage seems to make any difference. Those in the position to make change are also driven by power and greed, with a few notable exceptions. These exceptions are a bit beyond being able to counter the others.
    We can only keep trying and chip away at it in social media and publicity campaigns from organisations like Amnesty International and keep our governments with their eye on the ball and not their strategic place in the power struggle.

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    1. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Jenny Mountford

      Yep, and see to that your armed forces exist as a truth-worthy deterrent to others imperialistic dreams. People seems much the same through history to me. But we are changing, and to the better I think, even if ever so slowly.

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