By Mohammad Ali Atassi

The ruling clique in Syria has always evinced a strong and neurotic animosity toward the urban centers of the country, with special emphasis on the cities of bilad As-sham. Throughout the junta’s long reign and domination of the land, it exhibited hostility toward the city while at the same time rebelling against the essence of the city itself. A truly modern concept of the city requires certain indispensable components: an open public environment accommodation of fixed and dynamic identities, pluralism, assimilation, political activism, and coexistence between left and right, Islamists and liberals, poor and rich, give and take, religions and sects, Christians and Muslims, Sunnis and Shiites, Alawites and Druze. This concept of the city is the antithesis of what the Syrian ruling group represents–fanaticism and blood, violence and massacres, exclusivity, boastfulness, idolization, plunder and corruption.
The Syrian countryside has rebelled, and so the poor, the urban youth, the marginalized, the oppressed, all rose up to restore to the city its modern meaning. They wanted their share of freedom and justice, their share in politics, their share in the equitable distribution of wealth, and basic freedoms.
In one respect, the Syrian Revolution is an attempt by the traditional cities, the Syrian countryside, and those who emancipated themselves from their own sects as well as by those oppressed within their own sects; all desire a return to the city in its modern meaning, its vitality that has been destroyed by the single-party system, the deification of the Leader, and the perfidy of sectarian politics.
This criminal system is trying in vain to destroy the cities of Syria, one after the other, but it will certainly have much more difficulty in destroying the city as an idea and as the future.
This is an edited translation from the Arabic by Elie Chalala of a posting by Mohammed Ali Atassi on his face book.