Better than Syria?
It was back in the late 1980s when I, a young teenager then, visited my Syrian side of the family. In the garden of a family member’s villa, a group of us, all teenagers, gathered late at night and started telling jokes. The Syrians love the Egyptian sense of humour and jokes, and so I was always asked to tell them the “latest jokes” of my home country. At some point, one of my jokes started with “Mubarak, Assad, and Reagan …” I was violently shushed and shoved inside the house. One of my older cousins led us inside, closed the door and windows of a top-floor room, and said I could now tell the joke. They explained to me that if one of the neighbours or the “garbage man” heard us telling a joke on Assad, we would be detained and never heard of again. They then started telling me stories of acquaintances who “disappeared” as a consequence of passing comments on Assad, being snitched on by colleagues at work or at school, some were even family members. One particular story shocked me at the time, was of a 10 year old girl who was eating a sandwich at her school break, the sandwich was wrapped in a newspaper page which had Assad’s picture on it. The girl unwrapped her sandwich and threw the paper in the garbage…she was told on by her teacher and was taken along with her father and never were seen again.