For Fuckin' Fuck's Sake! Cut it Out!

Karim Arbaji has just been sentenced to three years in prison for defending human rights in Syria. Meanwhile, the Syrian blogosphere is bustling with posts advocating admirable and worthy campaigns. There’s the astounding campaign against masturbation, the noble Blogging Week for Moral Decay, and the enlightening campaign for Blogging Against Fossilized Thinking.

The background of this story is this post by Abu Fares, a response ridiculing the infamous call for a campaign against masturbation. The commentators on that post eventually came up with their own ideas for  random blogging campaigns. In essence to further mock that blogger, and the perceived religious bloggers he’s associated with.

I have to say that upon reading about the anti-masturbation campaign I cracked up. Also, I posted about it on Global Voices, sans-sarcasm. Some people were amused by the idea and tweeted the link of the article and a friend of mine wrote to me saying that the campaigner is likely to have a crowd supporting his campaign that you could fit in a phone booth. So, many people find – me included – that idea outrageous, But does that warrant the ridicule of the blogger? Does that make it ok to put aside all the great words and thoughts I’ve seen many Syrian bloggers write on each of their blogs to combine forces to fight this supposed “common enemy” called religiousness?

For those of you unfamiliar with the Syrian blogosphere some more background is in order. It is a common and accepted notion that religious Syrian bloggers (even those who don’t specifically blog about Islam related matters) blog in Arabic, and those who are liberal, non-religious often write in English. So there has been friction between the two sides more than once.

Now, I only have one thing to say to all my dear compatriot bloggers: FOR FUCKIN’ FUCK’S SAKE! CUT IT OUT!

Don’t you all see how ridiculous you all sound? You think you’re all so god damn different. Well, here’s a little table to help illustrate things a bit clearer:

Are you really that different?

Are you really that different?

Apart from a couple of sane voices out there, those guys are ready to rip each other to pieces for the good of all Syrians. What a farce! What’s crazy is that with each stand off, the same people that put Arbaji and many others behind bars are rubbing their hands and creepily saying “excellent!” Now I’m not asking anyone to go on a crusade against the security forces and the so-called justice system to get those guys out, or even worse: demand the freedom of speech for all Syrians regardless of their faith, ethnicity, or political affiliation. Also, I’m not trying to lecture  anyone in how to be a patriot or a better person (although I seem to be failing at that).

What irks me is that everyone is so focused on their own nuances that they refuse to see a bigger picture. Cancel that, you don’t even have to see a bigger picture. Just spare the rest of us who don’t care all your incessant bickering. The I-get-my-panties-in-knot-every-time-the-opposite-side-says-something syndrome is getting really old and neither of you are getting any support for whatever it is that you’re advocating with your self-righteous attitude, or venomous attempts at humor.

Some will probably attack me saying that I’m no better than anyone else [if anyone even read this post], that I’m in no position to tell people what to do and not do. I’m not assuming that I am, nor will I ever be. But it’s a shame seeing top-notch bloggers make fools out of themselves. There’s a reason I don’t blog that often: I’m very critical of my own writing and always prefer reading what my fellow bloggers to jotting down whatever follies I have running through my head. One thing remains true though, when I read what y’all have written and the only thing I can think about is going ninja on my keyboard and furiously write a post – it only means one thing: you guys suck!




  1. abufares says:

    I think this is one hell of a post. For that alone you should write more often.

    I agree with everything you said by the way but we’re humans, and Syrians, after all. A little bickering is part of our identity.

    There are no absolutes and no one could be entirely correct. In self-defense the only red line I hate seeing people crossing is individual liberty (mine). We have no political freedom to speak of and we’re all aware of that so when someone from our midst comes up with the idea of further restricting us by attacking what little we have a reaction is certainly in order.

    It might be hard to explain that I have been pushed into the “left” corner but if you’ve been unfortunate to read any of my earlier posts you would realize that I was another “middle” man.

    Well enough defending! Thank you for what is a very interesting article.

    • Anas says:

      Wow, I finally got the mighty Abu Fares to comment on my blog, and with a compliment! Why thank you sir.

      I agree with most of your comment, [except that I don't see the anti-masturbation campaign as crossing personal freedoms, for many reasons].

      Thanks for the comment and I do hope I see you commenting on my blog again soon.

  2. Sasa says:

    I have got into a few fights with dear bloggers who I have a great deal of respect for, about this very issue. So I don’t intend to do it again. I admire and agree with a lot of what has been said in these “campaigns”.

    But…Anas, you said it all. This holier-than-thou hypocrisy has got to stop.

    I have a theory why the blogsphere is alive with these kind of things. Blogging is a very egotistical exercise (anyone who believes others want to read their thoughts has a big ego). And what do egotistical people want to do? They want to tell the world what their political and social views are. And that’s all this is. Look how left wing I am. Look how conservative I am. I’m more liberal than him. Blah blah blah.

    I couldn’t care less. Like you said, there are bigger issues.

  3. Yazan says:

    Very well Anas,
    The fact is nobody is out there to mock a certain blogger or ridicule him.

    And despite the comedic backdrop of it all starting with the (aptly described by you) hilarious post (in its irony) about masturbation and Abu fares’s more hilarious response to it (which cracked me up), I don’t see how the rest of the posts were in anyway focused on him (apart from mine). Cancel the title and the posts of Abu Fares, or Abu Kareem or DJ are ones that deserve to be read as stand-alone posts with interesting ideas. And I’m surprised you failed to see that.

    Don’t think that the irony of it all was lost on me when I woke up this morning and read the news about Arbaji.

    That aside, who exactly has spoken of that common enemy you describe? I can’t remember reading any posts about people’s religiosity. Enlighten me please!

    I remember the last three flare ups were about a blogger calling to hack other people’s blogs, and a campaign against homosexuals and then minor ones about the last episode with al-Mudawen. Where exactly has anyone attacked religious people?

    Nevermind that.

    I think the attention that these flare-ups attract is many times the size of how much they represent. Do take a look in the archives of all of them, how much do they represent exactly? and are they worth this eruption of yours?

    Yes, blogging is very personal and it’s about you telling the world (or at least those who care to read) about yourself, I don’t see how that can be used in a derogatory meaning. And this post, just as any, is a perfect example of that.

    I doubt any of us (bloggers, in general, that is) have any grand illusions about how our blogging will change the world, and I doubt any of us is blogging for that.

    • Anas says:

      The “conflict” is under the surface most of the time, and ignoring it will not make it go away. The campaigns obviously were a response to a certain blog post and even if some, or most, of them had their own stand-alone ideas that doesn’t negate the fact that they wouldn’t have been written if it wasn’t for that particular post.

      As for the few flares, just because you’re missing them doesn’t mean they’re not becoming full fledged fires. Here’s what Okbah had to say about the recent campaigns:

      الحمد لله أخيرا ظهر الكثير من المدونين السوريين بالإنجليزية على حقيقتهم الفجة.. منحلون أخلاقيا وخلقيا وعقليا

      Is that the kind of conversation we want on the Syrian blogosphere?

    • I don’t know, Yazan. I did find your post hilarious (as you know) but as an outsider (albeit one with a bit more knowledge than most) to the Syrian blogosphere, even I’m aware of such little rifts, propagated by a few well-meaning bloggers.

  4. Umniya says:

    when i heard about Karim ‘s sentence , i thought i’d open the blogspher to find a wave of an extreme exasperating around, but look what i’ve found..
    those outsiders’, who can speak about it , main concerns is to elimnate the “other” , to make outs in gardens, or to masturbate in public .
    the thing is i would like to calm everybody who is worried about these issues that they do already exist every where in every park in damascus and in every mini bus, just two days ago i had a guy totally naked, masturbating infront of me.

    wtf

  5. Abu Kareem says:

    Anas, Several weeks ago I was about to give up blogging because of this very same issue. I was turned off by the Syrian blogsphere because I felt it lacked substance and there was excessive meaningless navel-gazing. Much of it I think is due to the fact that people either don’t care but mostly because people are afraid to tackle larger issues related to Syria . Your post on Global voices is the one that led me to the laughable anti-maturbation campaign. I agree with you that perhaps the response has gotten out of hand. Although I think it perhaps reflects some pent up anger that needed to be vented. I personally like to stay away from personal attacks and keep it civil. My quarrel is not with individuals but with a mindset and as my response clearly says, I do not denigrate people of faith only those that take it to extremes. This tide of extreme religiosity is changing Syrian society and for some, it is a major concern.

    You are right, ithough, it is time to move on.

    • Anas says:

      I agree with you, religious extremism is always a concern. No, any extremism is a concern (and some of your responses guys were extreme).

      It’s always been my fear that Syria would some day turn into another Saudi Arabia or Egypt where people are arrested for breaking the fast in public on a Ramadan day. Yet, I also think that we should maintain the dialogue with all stakeholders in the Syrian society, and not alienate some groups for what they say or what they believe in. I know you and I agree.

  6. أمنية says:

    when I heard about Karim’s sentence, i thought i’d open the blogsphere to find extreme exasperating around, but look what i have found.
    the outsiders’, who can speak about it, main concern is to collaborate to eliminate and shun those they don’t agree with, making outs or masturbating in public.
    the thing is i would like to calm everyone who is worried about the lack of these free sightings in syria, that they do already exist in every park in damascus, and nearly in every min bus, just two days ago i had a naked guy masturnating in front on me in the street.
    wtf

  7. [...] For Fuckin’ Fuck’s Sake! Cut it Out! « Outcast | اللامنتمي [...]

  8. Razan says:

    Anas,

    You are speaking of how we “deal” with each other, i dont think that’s the problem here. I think the problem is rather how we “read” each other, which i think it comes very much from how we read ourselves.

    I believe that the image we construct about the “other” is not so much true to that other as much as it speak of how we see him/her, in relation to how we see ourselves.

    I sometimes find myself estranged from both, the arabic and the english community, but at the same time, i relate to both, and ironically, to the arabic community more. Why? because while the English community essentializes the Arabic community, the latter doesn’t, as much as it problematize it.

    you have no idea, how amazing people are there in both communities, and how wonderful it would be, to “talk” to each other instead.

    that said, i don’t all bloggers were personally attacking anyone, it’s just a response or rather a “comment”, in a shape of a post.

    but i do think your post is important in this stage.

    • Razan says:

      and sorry for all the typos and grammatical mistakes, how me :)

    • Anas says:

      Dear Razan,
      Just take a look at Okbah’s twitter feed and you’ll see that the response hit too close to home with a lot of people. I believe that even when we differ in opinions we should maintain a respectful dialogue. We can make fun and joke at each other’s expense, but not ridicule them.

  9. yaser says:

    interesting observations, but to clear one thing up I think that moving forward and getting out of this polarization is important but should not be carried out in a way that stifles the diversity and multiple voices that exisit in the Syrian Blogsphere, the last thing we need is for people to conform in order to have “peace” with each other.
    Best

  10. [...] For Fuckin’ Fuck’s Sake! Cut it Out! « Outcast | اللامنتمي anasqtiesh.wordpress.com/2009/09/13/for-fuckin-fucks-sake-cut-it-out – view page – cached Karim Arbaji has just been sentenced to three years in prison for defending human rights in Syria. Meanwhile, the Syrian blogosphere is bustling with posts advocating admirable and worthy campaigns. There’s the astounding campaign against masturbation, the noble Blogging Week for Moral Decay, and the enlightening campaign for Blogging Against Fossilized Thinking. — From the page [...]

  11. dubai jazz says:

    Anas,

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say by “CUT IT OUT”. Exactly, cut what out?

    Irony is that I blogged about something I really detest: tribalism. I always try to distance myself from the herd mentality. I’d like to think of myself as a free-thinker who relies on himself for guidance and is always skeptical of broad generalizations.

    So unlike you, I don’t really see a sinister pattern….

  12. Jabi says:

    I was just thinking of writing something on this matter but I guess anas said it all. A quick comment should do it. I mostly agree with what you had to say in your post.

    As Syrians most of us for a very long time didn’t have the opportunity to share our opinions with fellow Syrians due to restrictions upon our freedom to say and express our opinions in a public forum due to either societal barriers or government barriers. However, blogging gave us that opportunity, and we are able to put forward issues (whether they were important to other bloggers or not) up for discussion. It was unfortunate that some of the Syrian bloggers took some initiatives and blogging campaigns as an attack to their personal freedom and not as an opportunity to start a dialogue with those who started those initiatives.

    In regards to the issue of the current campaign against masturbation, I wonder if the person starting the campaign was aiming to spread awareness of the negative effects of masturbation without raising the issue from an Islamic perspective, would have received the same ridicule from the bloggers who attacked the campaign in an unnecessary vehement manner..?

    I think that blogging, in addition to it being a means to express and deliver ones opinions to those who care, is also a means to create an understanding between different people with different ideas and not something that creates differences between different people and creates an atmosphere of intolerance and narrow mindedness to each others opinions which is exactly what has happened.

  13. Razan says:

    I’d like to put things in perspective, enough generalizing. It appears to me that not all of us here are talking about the “same” problem.

    I read Anas’s post not as a reaction to the weekly blogging campaigns-even though he wrote it as a reaction to these campaigns- but about the problem between two “teams” in the blogsphere. it’s worth to note, that these campaigns did not offend the arab blogsphere as a whole, only a few of them. Jabi’s comment is an evidence that we are not talking about arabic or english blogging.

    Who exactly did initiate the weekly blogging campaigns against the blogger who blogged against masturbation? Of all the bloggers who participated in the campaigns only two mentioned the word “masturbation” and in different contexts. does that mean any blogger who mentions the word masturbation is necessarily ridiculing that blogger? they might be responding, and what if they are? why is it ok when a handful of bloggers discuss censorship, the imprisonment of prisoners of conscience, honor crimes etc but it’s not ok to talk about how they view masturbation? it seems to me that what we’re saying, when it comes to taboos, we should blog to support these taboos and not to blog against them even if this is what we believe in “as syrians”.

    so seriously, i think this is getting ridiculous. my problem is that there are no initiatives to clarify the misunderstanding between these two teams. there should be no problem whatsoever if someone blogged about the same “topic”, it’s should be about “how” they blogged it, and i don’t think anyone in this campaign was offensive to any blogger, but rather, to the “morals” of some bloggers who assume “all syrians” share.

    I enjoyed these campaigns and I related to most of them.

    Jabi, you said:

    “It was unfortunate that some of the Syrian bloggers took some initiatives and blogging campaigns as an attack to their personal freedom and not as an opportunity to start a dialogue with those who started those initiatives.”

    Who do you speak of and how did they exactly attacked the blogger’s personal freedom?

    you also said:

    “I wonder if the person starting the campaign was aiming to spread awareness of the negative effects of masturbation without raising the issue from an Islamic perspective, would have received the same ridicule from the bloggers who attacked the campaign in an unnecessary vehement manner..?”

    So you’re wondering whether these campaigns are an attack on the “the Islamic perspective” of maturation?

    is there something called “Islamic perspective” in the first place? aren’t there Islamic perspectives countering Islamic perspectives? Do ALL Muslims share and believe in ALL Islamic perspectives to how they should be better Muslims?
    Most importantly, aren’t there Muslims, in these campaigns who you assume they’re attacking that blogger’s Islamic perspective on masturbation? furthermore, why didn’t you read these bloggers campaign, since to you it’s a direct response to that blogger, that perhaps, they’re Muslims countering this Islamic perspective? why did you read it as a campaign “against” islam than a “dialogue” amongst muslims on this islamic perspective?

    Your comment Jabi assumes: one: bad faith from these bloggers, which i think is baseless. two, that there is a consensus amongst muslims’ reading to Islam, which is a myth some Muslims can’t seem to bypass it.

    I think the comment above only proves how

  14. Razan says:

    That said, I think Jabi’s comment proves how there is a huge misunderstanding between these two teams.

  15. Jabi says:

    Razan,
    I read two blog posts when I came up with this conclusion. The first was Abu Fares’s response to a campaign or initiative against masturbation and the second was the post written by the person who started that awareness or blogging campaign. I had no interest in the whole debacle in the first place.

    The issue is not arabic or english blogging it is an issue of different opinions and the perception that different bloggers get when someone expresses an opinion on their own blog. Why is it ridiculous (a comment said by alot even on some responses here) to start a blogging campaign to raise awareness to the negative effects of masturbation? Abufares in his latest post wrote “disparity of opinions should never degrade to a personal conflict.” and this is exactly what happened.

    It is not necessary that a person mentions the word masturbation in order to ridicule the topic, i can ridicule and mock an issue that you raised by not mentioning the main issue in the first place. Again check Abu fares’s post on “Blogging week against anal orifices” and you would see that these are responses to the initial campaign against masturbation, or am i wrong?

    The way that some people reacted to the campaigns that happen to be in the Arabic Syrian blogosphere, were in a way that whatever issue was raised was meant to limit the personal freedom of other members in a society by bringing back islamic values, and this is true for any situation where islam and secularism.

    Correct me if i was wrong but didn’t the masturbation campaign contain some islamic elements within?

    An individual islamic perspective and not the perspective of all the different sects within islam. I didn’t read everything about the campaign, all I read was a couple of responses in english to those campaigns, and since I have been following some of those blogs for a while now I know that those people disagree with most of the things that are said from an islamic perspective, therefore it is not baseless and is not bad faith.

    Again it is an islamic perspective of an individual. It is not a myth, we all know that there are different sects within islam however they mostly only differ in more important elements of the islamic faith.

  16. Umniya says:

    Jabi, yes Anas said it all .
    this chart made above is just the real pic we have here.
    i don’t think that any would have minded or got offended by having any of these campiegns or reading each others’ thoughts, – coz they are not any different than their previous posts- IF they were naturally brought up to the sphere and not as a response to the first one.
    in fact they all looked extra informative and funny, at least to me.
    i just wonder why they didn’t follow this policy of “YOU ARE ALWAYS FREE TO SKIP A BLOG” made by one of the bloggers , or is this freedom 7allal for some and 7aram for others!!

    Regards

  17. yaman says:

    I am glad you wrote this. When I saw the feud, I had a similar reaction to yours. I believe in ridiculing the ridiculous whenever possible, but in our small blogosphere, when there is such a big threat to its existence and to the freedom of bloggers to write what they want to write, it seems to me the entire back and forth was a distraction.

    • Anas says:

      Welcome Yaman,

      I’m glad we agree. This whole thing was blown out of proportion for no real purpose. I hope this long ongoing feud ends and people start feeling that disagreement on certain topics is not a threat to the “Syrian way of life.” However you define that.

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