September 26, 2013

If you’re anything like us, we have long been wondering who is behind the funny, touching, ironic and sarcastic messaging coming out of the town of Kafr Nabl. Abdulrahman al-Masri tracked down Ali Amin Suwaid, 45, a former political member of the FSA’s Revolutionary Command Council in Idlib province who directs the artistic, slogan-making and film-producing projects of the Kafr Nabl Media Center. Kafr Nabl is a village outside Idlib city that has been controlled by the FSA since August 2012. Since the earliest days of the revolution in March 2011, the center has been known in Arabic as “The Conscience of the Revolution” for its anti-sectarian yet humorous messaging calling for the inclusion of all ethnic and religious groups in the struggle against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.  Last week, the Media Center released what may be its most ambitious project yet: a three-minute short filmed amidst the Roman ruins outside Kafr Nabl called “The Syrian Revolution in Three Minutes.” Here, Suwaid explains the parody.

Q: What is the message that you are trying to deliver to the world?

A: As there is no real media for the revolution inside Syria, we [Kafr Nabl’s media men] took on the responsibility to show the real face of the revolution inside and outside Syria.

We are seen as a testimony to the revolution, the face of the revolution in the media and the pulse of the street. We are trying to highlight to the world the cultural dimension of the Syrian citizen, inherited from thousands of years of Syrian culture. We want to emphasize our common humanity in our values, which we must defend, regardless of religion, ethnicity or color.

Kafr Nabl Scud image

Photo courtesy of لافتات كفرنبل المحتلة.

Q: How you can measure the impact of your work?

A: At first we had two concerns. We wanted to deliver our messages domestically and abroad in a clear, transparent way and in an engaging style that would interest the audience. The second was to make sure that the media followed what we were doing, to ensure success in achieving our goal.

These banners achieved great popularity and were a shock to the world. We called for the toppling of all national and religious organizations. You can see that here.

In April, we declared our sympathy to the people of Boston after the Boston terrorist bombings with this sign:

The people of Boston reacted quickly. They wrote signs thanking Kafr Nabl and supporting the revolution against Bashar al-Assad. This was a great sign of collaboration and the acceptance of what we were attempting to achieve.

Q: Who is producing the artwork, slogans and short movies in Kafr Nabl?

A: It is a small team from Kafr Nabl. Raed al-Faris is considered the backbone for artistic projects and the director. He coordinates protests, supervises slogans and banners, writes songs in Arabic and brainstorms ideas and directs short movies about these ideas. I transform ideas about current political conditions into signs in English, and together with Raed al-Faris, we prepare a script and transform it into real signs and slogans. Political cartoonist Ahmad Jalal and cartoonist Emen Ahmad participate in artwork.

The real creative work is this wonderful interaction of the people in the town with these works of art we create, which they have worked hard to realize in the harshest conditions.

Q: So these songs and movies began depicting the goals of the Syrian revolution without any racism or sectarianism. Why did they begin in Kafr Nabl and why did they become so popular?

A: Kafr Nabl became popular for a number of reasons. One reason is that the creative team has a sharp sense of events and is aware of the revolution’s goals, which allows it express what the revolution wants from its sons.

Also, the technical team reacts to international and local events appropriately and at the right time. The media attention toward Kafr Nabl at the start of revolution [contributed to the project’s success], as Al-Jazeera helped transform Kafr Nabl from an unknown town into a famous one.

Q: What inspired your last movie, “The Syrian Revolution in 3 Minutes?”

A: The way the world reacted toward Assad’s last chemical massacre last month had a major effect in producing this great movie. We went back to the Stone Age to grab attention and simplify the message for the world’s understanding. Our message was, “Hey, world, you’re only opposed to one type of weapon? But you encourage this criminal to use whatever else he wants to kill Syrians?”

Meanwhile, our Arab brothers, who are supposed to be the people who care about Syria, do not.

Q: Do you think that you can stay moderate? Have the changes in the revolution and extremism affected you? How?

A: The Syrian people of all colors and sexes have carried the revolution on their shoulders, searching for freedom and dignity. The first slogan of the revolution was, “God, Syria, Freedom." We still believe in the goals of the revolution, and no power in the world can change that, no matter the terrorist pressure, from the the terrorist Assad regime of Al Qaeda.

We rebelled against Assad, who is a symbol of dictatorship in the world, so there is no way we will surrender for Qaeda, which has less than a hundredth of the regime's power. We still demand dignity and freedom for all Syrians without any discrimination. We don't want to exclude anyone, even people of the regime's sect. We welcome them as long as they do not participate in killing innocent people.