Exclusive: A Canadian's eyes in Syria
Sep 4, 2013 / 9:30 am
As the situation between Syria and the United States continues to intensify, it must be pointed out that the majority of our thoughts and opinions on the alleged chemical weapons attack and the ensuing diplomatic standoff have been provided exclusively by the Western media. Without setting foot on either side of the debate, Castanet has been able to speak via email to a Syrian family whose mother was born in Canada and lived in Edmonton until she was 16.
Only the initials will be used in order to protect the family’s privacy and to keep them safe from any retaliation for speaking out about their situation in the war torn country.
J.A and M.A have lived in Syria for the past 25 years, only coming to Canada twice in that time. Together they run a successful jewelry business and own two houses.
J, who was born in Edmonton, moved back to Lebanon when she was 16 years old and met her Syrian born husband a few years later. They choose not to leave Syria because that is where their lives are.
When asked if they know anyone who has been hurt by Bashar Assad’s forces, they immediately become defensive and say they don’t believe he is responsible for anyone getting hurt. And while they do know of friends who have died in explosions, "you leave home in the morning, not knowing if you will make it home in the afternoon,” is how they explain their day-to-day life.
This is not to say they are not concerned for their safety. The couple verifies reports that thousands of people have left Syria (including the couples two children) in order to relocate to neighbouring counties like Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.
J has already been in talks with the Canadian embassy and both herself and her children have Canadian citizenship and are able to leave immediately, but M must apply for a visa, and none are being given out at this time. The family is holding steadfastly together and will not leave anyone behind.
With regards to the many media reports over the past week that deal with chemical weapons and a possible US strike, the couple again turns defensive and adamantly denies that Assad’s forces are gassing Syrian citizens, instead pointing to other groups attempting to cast dark shadows on the ruling party.
They are also very much opposed to US involvement in Syria’s civil war. They believe if the US attacks, it will force Syria to retaliate against either the US or Israel and this will only create a bigger problem than what already exists.
With elections due next summer, the couple says Assad will not step down before then and has been checking up on his people and walking through the towns, apparently hiding in plain sight.
The family says if things don’t get better between now and next summer, they will relocate to Lebanon. But coming to Canada is out of the question because the family would have to leave everything behind and start all over once again.
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