As part of our effort to highlight civilian stories, below is a conversation between News Deeply and a 26-year-old artist in Damascus. He is a progressive Sunni who takes huge pride in the culture of his city. We asked him to share his impressions of what’s happening in Damascus.
In my opinion, the morale of people is gone in Damascus. Some people have no hope. And others have very little – they say we’re condemned to have hope, there’s no other alternative.
Some people have shifted from one neighborhood to another neighorhood, looking for safety. It’s a survival issue. They are living each day on its own, not thinking about more than that. They don’t have the luxury of thinking about the future and how this will be solved. They’re just looking for a safe place.
Then there are some people who won’t leave their neighborhoods, saying whatever happens, let it be. We’ll accept the result. Whether we’re bombed or killed, it doesn’t change anything because we’re hopeless. They say, ‘If I’m going to die, let me die in my home.’
Perhaps there are no humans left here. There are only half humans. There is something broken inside the people.
There are still people who support the regime in Damascus. I think that support for the government increased after people saw what the other side is doing, how the other side is committing inhuman atrocities, not treating every person like a human being. Instead, they’re judging people according to their sect. That has been a boost to the government position, some people supporting the regime because they think it will defend them.
Most government offices are working normally. In some neighborhoods where there is some tension, like in Midan, they’ve stopped temporarily. There are traffic police, but sometimes they’ll just disappear. And people don’t follow the rules. They don’t stop at red lights, taxi drivers don’t buckle their seatbelts or use meters. They just pick a price and tell you.
There are refugees fleeing some Damascus neighborhoods that have heavy fighting. The places they’re leaving: al-Tadamun, al-Yarmouk, al-Hajar al-Aswad, Qatana, Qudsiyah, Maadamiya and Daria. Some of those refugees have a place to stay with relatives. Others can afford to rent. But others are in the streets, schools, or public parks.