Ahed al- Hindi
It is not a night club or a restaurant, not even a street concert. This is the campaign rooms or “tents” of the election candidates in Syria. These candidates are giving everything else than their electoral programs to the visitors.
While the Government is asking the people to vote and the opposition is asking the people to boycott the elections, the Syrian youth is absent from the whole commotion.
Regime repression is discouraging any kind of youth activities and engagement in cultural, political or social life.
Maher is a law student of 23 years old. “I come to these tents just to spend time with my friends, and to smoke shisha (hubbly bubbly) for free. Usually we spend our time in the cafés, but since it is free here, and life is expensive, why not?”
We can smoke shisha and dance, and we are never bored; every day we visit another tent belonging to another candidate.
Maher hopes elections will happen every year or every six months, to as to enjoy the hospitality of the campaign rooms.
Hana al Salim, a student of English literature says “these tents are bothering me, they keep on playing music all day long, the hosts don’t care about the neighbors or anybody around so how should people trust them to be their representatives in the Parliament?”
We asked some of youth whether they will participate in the election or not.
Mazen Asaf, an engineering student of 24 said: “Of course I will participate, I will be an agent for a candidate, standing at the election station during Election Day, encouraging people to vote for him. I’ll get 3 thousand Syrian pounds (60 dollar) for this job and that’s for just 2 days of work. This is good for me since I have no other work at the moment. In addition, I can now invite my friends now to my candidate’s tent every day and offer them food, drinks and smoking. He allows me to give extra services to my friends.”
Mohanad Wahba, 25 years old and an accounting student commented: “If I participate or not, the result will be the same, the candidates have already been selected and my vote will change nothing. But I will go to vote, just to have the stamp on my election card, if I don’t have this, I may face some problems in getting a job with the government or in my graduation from university.”
We asked another group of students about whether they know any of the running candidates or not.
Rola, an accounting student of 23 said: “I just know one and he is my friend’s father. But about the others…I see their pictures in the street and can’t recognize if they are a candidates or pop stars”.
Safwan of 25, studying media: “I don’t know any of them and I don’t want to know either. I also don’t know anybody of the current Parliament members. It seems that the Syrian people know more about the Lebanese Parliament and government than the Syrian one.”
“It is better for Syrians to go and vote in Lebanon! At least we know who those we are going to give our votes are and we read about them everyday in the Syrian newspapers”, he says jokingly.
Photos from syria news