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Are we human beings?

It makes you think when a Syrian official comments on the Douma massacres, in which hundreds were killed last week, and says that they did not actually occur. According to this official — the foreign minister no less — the devastation and destruction resulting from the bombing of a Syrian market place by regime aircraft, which people observed with their own eyes, was nothing more than "fabricated news presented through artful media".

However, he only made this profound announcement after claiming that "terrorists" were using civilians as human shields. Which part of his statement is true? That "terrorists" were using civilians as human shields, which led to their bombing? Or that this is all fabricated by the media? By whom, and why?

I would like to hear what the minister and his remaining colleagues in the Syrian regime have to say about the bombing that occurred again in Douma last Saturday and killed many more civilians. Was this also the figment of the media's imagination? Or just the side effects of bombing the terrorists?

In the same week, when the issue of missing individuals in Egypt was brought up during the anniversary of the Rabaa Al-Adawiyya massacre, I heard an individual — a lawyer and human rights activist, apparently — denying the phenomenon of enforced disappearances. He claimed that the "Brotherhood" was making these things up.

His best moment was when he demanded that the families of the missing individuals prove that they are missing. According to this genius, the families of those who have disappeared must provide evidence of their disappearance, and the state, which is accused of kidnapping or killing these missing individuals, is not obliged to look for them.

I do not know in which country this man studied law, but it is well-known good practice in any civilised legal system that once someone is reported as missing, the police and security forces must search for the missing person and investigate the cause of their disappearance. However, the fact that Egyptian state institutions (and the state's supporters who claim to be lawyers and human rights activists) are refusing to perform this duty proves that a guilty conscience needs no accuser.

I doubt that the Syrian foreign minister is unaware that more than one hundred Syrians, including many children, died as a result of the bombing on the outskirts of his capital. Regardless of who killed these people or used them as "human shields", they are still Syrian citizens and the Syrian government, on behalf of whom the minister speaks, is responsible for their protection.

Similarly, the "lawyer and human rights activist" in Egypt knows that hundreds were killed in the Rabaa Al-Adawiyya massacre and their bodies were burned, and that there are dozens of Egyptians being kidnapped, killed and tortured almost every day. He will also be aware that the state bears the responsibility for most of these crimes. The fact that they might be affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, or with the devil himself, does not negate the fact that they are Egyptian citizens and that the entity claiming to be the Egyptian state is responsible for protecting them and must investigate their disappearance. The official Egyptian discourse has started to use the word "Brotherhood" in the same manner that Daesh uses the word "apostate".

I read a statement issued by the President of Al-Azhar University in which he boasts that he has purged his university of the Brotherhood, just as Hitler bragged that he annihilated the Jews. The president also gloated about expelling 500 students because they were supporters of the movement, and fired an unspecified number of professors. He insisted that the Brotherhood would never return to Al-Azhar.

Are these statements appropriate for a teacher and educator to make, let alone the president of the most prestigious Islamic university in the world; bragging about expelling students merely because their opinions differ from his? Are these statements suitable for any Egyptian to make? Are they suitable for human beings at all?

Such a denial of the rights of citizenship for those who differ politically, and the denial of their humanity, existence and suffering, not only represents the lack of conscience and humanity within these hateful entities. It also represents something more than lies and the turning of a blind eye to facts witnessed by the entire world. The issue has now gone beyond turning a blind eye and actually reached blindness. This is evidenced by the case of a writer I heard yesterday express his pain and horror at the fact that dozens of "innocent, peaceful" demonstrators were injured in Beirut. This is despite the fact that over the past few years he has denied that any innocent people in Syria have been harmed, even though hundreds of thousands have been killed and millions more displaced.

Perhaps this "political and strategic analyst" believes that the nearly 1.5 million Syrians who have crossed into Lebanon over the past three years have been tourists looking to enjoy the beauty of his country. When sight is this blind, the issue goes from being complicity in a crime to a case of terminal illness.

In the Arab world, such blindness is not restricted to those who are blinded by passion and purpose, but also those blinded by benefitting from the support of oppression, tyranny and criminality. There are also large numbers of people, if not entire nations, who do not see anything wrong with the genocide committed against innocents, the complete destruction and levelling of cities on top of the residents' heads, and the torture of innocent people, even unto death.

In the past, we have seen men abandon their own homes and countries in order to defend the innocent and oppressed. However, we have never heard, until today, of those migrating and leaving their homes to defend the oppressors and get pleasure out of killing innocent people, as is the case with the many militias that have spread in the region like the plague.

We have also heard of those who revolt against oppression, injustice and tyranny, but we never hear of those who "revolt" against freedom and democracy and who cheer for repression and the killing of innocent people. What nation has such individuals?

Over the centuries, the Arabs always complained about being unable to catch up with the civilised world. However, it no longer seems to be a question of civilisation and progress, but of belonging to the human race. The crimes being committed against innocent people all across the Arab world could not have been committed by human beings with a firm moral compass. Those cheering-on the oppressors still have a long way to go before being categorised as human beings.

The issue is no longer civilisation, nor morality nor religion; these ambitions are too big. All we hope for is that some people can be categorised as human beings and for them to be haunted and horrified at the torture of innocents.

We must beware, for when a nation is so far down the ladder of humanity, its decline and destruction is imminent.

God made pharaoh at the time of Moses into a lesson and example for every oppressor, despite the fact that the ancient Egyptian ruler was better than some of our modern-day pharaohs. At least he did not deny the torture of his victims; he admitted to his crimes and was proud of them. "We will ruthlessly slay their sons and let their women live," he is reported to have said. "And surely we are dominant over them."

I will remind those who are oblivious that during the time of that pharaoh there was no "superpower" to advocate on behalf of his innocent victims. However, the superpower in the sky interferes specifically when no other force is present. Even the Greeks, who believe in several gods, knew the divine law that whenever the gods wanted to destroy someone, they first plagued them with blindness. We have witnessed the blindness, and now destruction will follow according to divine law.

Translated from Al Quds Al Arabi, 24 August, 2015.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

AfricaArticleEgyptLebanonMiddle EastOpinionSyria
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