How Mass Media Labels are Feeding into the Shia/Alawi Syrian Genocide

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SHAFAQNA – Reducing minorities to “government supporters” is one of the primary drivers enabling the sectarian Syrian genocide of both Shias and Alawis.

“The evacuation deal, brokered by Qatar and Iran, sees thousands of government supporters in rebel-held Foua and Kafraya granted safe passage out in exchange for thousands of opposition supporters in the government-besieged towns of Madaya and Zabadani, in a complex population swap.”

– The Telegraph, April 17th 2017

Syrian genocide: On April 17th, the Telegraph wrote a piece on the cowardly attack on Shia children who were leaving their besieged towns of Foa and Kafriya. These besieged towns had been surrounded by Wahhabi terrorists (Al-Qaeda) for years. The town had faced starvation but its residents could not come out as Wahhabi militants had threatened to murder them in cold blood, all for the crime of being part of what they see as the heretical sect of Shia Islam.

Part of Wahhabism’s program of dehumanizing Syrian Shias and Alawis (or any Shia/Alawi in the world) is the narrative that somehow anyone who is a Shia and Alawi is automatically a government supporter. Whether they are “government supporters” or not, the label itself is part of making a moral claim for killing Shias for political reasons in addition to the religious justifications that are already being made.

The dangers of dehumanization through such labels are real. The blanket generalization is not only used to kill men of combat age, but they are also used to viciously slaughter women, children and seniors.

Perhaps a good historical parallel is the Vietnam war. American soldiers used to call the Vietnamese “gooks.” The term was originally used by Americans in Korea during the 1920s, but it quickly became a term that encompassed people from the Philippines and Vietnam. Although the word was taken as a racial slur and considered to be very offensive, the greatest tragedy of the term is that it dehumanized and thus contributed to the moral justification of killing the Vietnamese. It was far easier to kill a “gook” than a “human being.”

Syrian Shias and Alawis are no exception. Like Al-Qaeda in Syria, for the Telegraph to collectively call the massacred Shias as “Asad supporters” or “government supporters” is to reduce their humanity to a political identity, an identity that is stripped of the necessary qualities that engender compassion and sympathy. When a person is reduced to a label, the process of demonization and the enactment of violence becomes all to easy with minimal if no feeling of regret.

Dehumanization is the critical core that gives life to the machinations of genocide and mass massacres. In the modern era, it began with the genocide of the native Americans at the hands of White European marauders. It continued with the mass genocide of the Tasmanian aboriginals under the British Empire, and evolving to a new phase with the killing of 6 million Jews in Nazi Germany.

Humanity has obviously not woken up. The next great genocide is now waiting at the door, namely the massacre of every living Alawi, Shia and potentially Christian in Syria at the hands of a Wahhabi extremist movement that was born out of the modern Western project of infusing total collapse in the Middle East and imposing a regime of absolute subservience to the dictates of the neoliberal project of global corporatism.

The most important tool the Pharaoh used to subjugate his people and enslave the Israelites was propaganda. Propaganda is to totalitarian regimes as coldness is to ice cream. The single most important tool Hitler used to massacre the Jews was not his advanced weaponry, but the instrumentalization and politicization of the mass media. No genocide in history has ever been conducted without propaganda.

What makes ISIS and Al-Qaeda so successful on the ground are not their imported weapons, nor is it their video game inspired promotional videos. No, it is the collusion of the Western mass media with Wahhabi extremist groups in portraying the current humanitarian disaster in Syria as a battle between an evil and chemically obsessed dictator, a group of his supporters (“government supporters) on the one side and on the other, freedom loving  “beautiful babies” and their protectors (aka Wahhabi extremists).

This fake binary of government/government supporters (Asad) and freedom fighters/beautiful babies is one of the primary reasons for Western popular support for the West’s proxy war in Syria. It is also one of the primary reasons that drives foreigners to continuously enter Syria and replenish the corps of Al-Qaeda and ISIS operating in the country.

Until genocide-sponsoring binaries and labels are not stopped, only the all out massacre of the other side, namely Shias and Alawis, will bring an end to the current phase of the conflict and will open another one. That is not good news as once Shias and Alawis are done for, it will be the turn of other groups who don’t fit into the ideological tolerance of Wahhabi extremist groups. But by then, the Western mass media will stop reporting on the country and pretend that all is well, just like they did in Libya.

By Alamdar Khadr – This article was published first in the World Shia Forum

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