Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Who is the Mr. Syrian?

What kind of people are the Syrians? What mentality or culture do they have, and this question gets more serious when it comes to host countries' policies towards the coming Syrians.

To adequately answer this question, let me take you on a short tour in history.

Syria used to belong to the West, i.e. Roman Empire, Greek Empire, Byzantine Empire, and that continued most of its life time (which is estimated to be about 10,000 years). 

Soon after Syria became part of the new Islamic country, and later empire. Damascus became the center of this new empire in the Omayyad era (1400 years ago). That implies that most of the sophisticated and educated Arabs moved to Syria, either to seek positions with the caliphate and related governors, or to stay close to fighting borders; which was considered the biggest honor for Muslims (Jihad).

Nevertheless, we can imagine 6 different cases in this new situation: The Arab who came with a conservative mindset from Saudi Arabia, the Arab who came with an open mindset to mingle with the local culture, the locals (which were almost Romans, or say "Italians" if you want) who either fled, died, stayed and became Muslims, or remained Christians as Islam allowed them to do.

During the following 14 centuries, including the respective eras, especially the Ottoman, these ingredients mixed until this original story was almost forgotten; actually, nobody has the guts to mention it; including the Christians themselves, as it was more profitable for them to remain part of this big Arabic and Muslim atmosphere. But forgetting this story has led to ambiguous answers regarding the question: Who is the Syrian (or who is the Levantine?) 

According to the above explained process, the Syrian can be 100% European (say Italian), 100% Saudi (sometimes more Arabic than Saudis!), and between these two edges. In other words, Mr. Syrian can be any shade.

That applies to the cultural mentality and everything, for example, you might meet Syrians who think that women shouldn't drive cars, and who spend their life in Arabic dress and never tried other food. You can also meet Syrians who never wore Arabic clothes and eat only pizza or hamburger!

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