The Syrian War Has Taken Us Prematurely to Hell!

Uno stupido che cammina va più lontano di dieci intellettuali seduti (Jacques Séguéla)

Il giornalista è stimolato dalla scadenza. Scrive peggio se ha tempo. (Karl Kraus)

Elie Chalala


POsting image

In photo: Father George Massouh, via Al Jadid

by Father George Massouh

The crimes committed in Syria have surpassed what the human mind can imagine in terms of horrors and atrocities. Undoubtedly, in our cruel East, we have become accustomed to living with this reality, which plunges us down to the depths of hell. This horror lies in our acceptance of what occurs in our countries while we continue our daily lives as if nothing is happening, and justify the violence as a defense of central causes or as wars against terrorism. As if some want to convince us that terrorism can be defeated by “counter” terrorism.

The fertile imaginations of artists, novelists and poets have excelled in portraying Hell in their paintings and writings. Similarly, religious texts have offered horrific descriptions of hell and its fires, from its worms to its venomous snakes, while illustrators of icons and murals have painted visions of unbearable suffering. However, no one’s imagination has achieved the level of creativity reached by the criminals in Syria, who came from all corners of the world, to make Syria into the reality – not the fiction – a real Hell surpassing any imagined inferno.

We would not have reached this terrible inferno had we not accepted the many atrocities committed throughout the years. What takes place these days remains a direct consequence of years of silence over crimes committed by dictatorial regimes, and totalitarian parties, “secular,” “religious,” or “sectarian.” It remains the product of years of silence over wars waged in the name of God, Sharia or in the name of defending this or that minority. We all participate in feeding this raging inferno.

We would not have arrived at this inferno had we not made excuses for stabbings, murders, displacement, and barrel bombing… Whoever becomes accustomed to justifying one crime will become accustomed to justifying all crimes. We have become addicted to crime and thus have become “desensitized”…

How can someone who prays, fasts, and invokes the name of God daily, remain silent, not to say complicit, as he watches people starve to death before him?...

Hell has come to us; we don’t have to wait until the end of the world to face it. It has arrived prematurely. Had we wished, we possessed the ability to bring paradise to our present world instead of waiting until the final day. We chose Hell over paradise. Thus, fires consume us, we perish from starvation, tremble in the cold, and fall victim to oppression.

We have witnessed walking skeletons hovering between life and death, skeletons without flesh, covered with withered, dry skin. We have witnessed skeletons whose bulging eyes still carry a spark of hope and promise, refusing to die. That flame of light will restore life to such skeletons before they decay. No one can quench the wonderful sparkle, the longing for life in those eyes. Instead, those eyes will quench the fires of the Syrian hell.

This article appeared in Arabic in and Father George Massouh’s Facebook page. An edited translation from the Arabic is by Elie Chalala.

This essay appeared in Al Jadid, Vol. 20, No. 70, 2016.
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