Friday, December 09, 2016

How Western media peddled a fabricated story of a Syrian singer whose throat was allegedly cut

"As the story made its way around the world, the posthumous tributes began to flood in. A Syrian-American pianist, Malek Jandali, was moved to write a powerful orchestral work called the "Freedom Qashoush Symphony"; an Amsterdam art exhibition featured a pen-and-ink portrait of the dead singer, accompanied by some of his songs. In a headline interview with President Assad on ABC in November 2011, Barbara Walters confronted him with the story of the "singer with his throat cut", rendering the Syrian president momentarily silent....The songs were inspiring to Syria's young revolutionaries, but there was also something odd about the story. For one thing, the reports of who Qashoush was, where he'd been killed - even the age he was when he died - were wildly different. There was the fact that no one had managed to speak to his family. As time passed, the rumour mill among Syrian oppositionists in exile quickened. "He is alive, and living here in Istanbul," one assured me over lunch in 2014. Another Syrian politico insisted that he was working as a gardener; another told me he'd left for Qatar; yet another that he'd left for Europe. One savvy young activist rolled his eyes when I asked the question, weary of what he took to be another propaganda fiction propagated by the rebel media.
One Syrian human rights investigator was more specific, and a little indignant. The singer was not really Qashoush at all, he insisted, but another man called Abdul Rahman Farhood. "Some of the opposition were telling lies because they thought it would be helpful. It was because of this that I fell out with them." Finally, in January of this year, I phoned a contact on Skype and heard a young Syrian speaking broken English at the other end. Was he Qashoush? "Yes, yes, my friend," he replied, with an amiable giggle. Where the hell was he? "It is a long story. I don't know where I should begin...But if Farhood was both the songwriter and performer, then who was Ibrahim Qashoush? "A totally unknown person," he told me. "He didn't do anything. Nobody knows his story or why anyone killed him." The Syrian human rights investigator's verdict was more damning: Ibrahim Qashoush was a local security guard and "the rebels killed him because they thought he was an informer for the regime"."
PS And when Western media were peddling the story of this Syrian "poet", I kept trying to point out "his poetry".  His most famous poem basically said: "May you perish, o Bashshar. May you perish, o Bashshar".  It is always poetry when the lyrics are directed against a tyrant who is not aligned with the US.