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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Syria’s Fouad Homaira: Goodbye Prince of Gazelles

Syrian writer Fouad Homaira (1965-2024); Photo credit: Tahsin Yahya

Fouad Homaira was a Syrian writer with a keen ability for using his craft to expose the ills of Syrian society in subtle ways. Instead of taking advantage of his status as a member of the same minority sect as the ruling family in his homeland, Homaira chose to use his skills as a writer to boldly expose and challenge the ways in which the Assad regime oppressed and exploited his fellow Syrians.

Born in Damascus in 1965 to a family from the Alawite sect in Latakia, Homaira studied journalism at University of Damascus. His involvement with Syrian drama evolved from participating in Youth Theatre, to the University Theatre in Damascus, and ultimately to the Workers’ Theatre. But as a writer of screenplays Homaira found that many production companies refused to work with him or present his works due to fear of reprisal from the Syrian authorities he opposed in his writing.

One of Homaira’s most notable works is the 2006 TV series titled Gazelles in the Forest of Wolves in which he depicted Syrian society as gazelles coexisting with wolves in a harsh jungle where there is no mercy or compassion.

Like many romantic Syrian intellectuals and influencers, Homaira joined the Syrian people’s revolution in the spring of 2011. Viewed as one of the godfathers of the revolution, he is also considered by many to be one of its instigators due to the nature of his journalistic and dramatic writings and his theatrical and television activities that preceded the Syrian revolution by many years. One of Homaira’s most notable works is the 2006 TV series titled Gazelles in the Forest of Wolves in which he depicted Syrian society as gazelles coexisting with wolves in a harsh jungle where there is no mercy or compassion.

Homaira refused to hide his political activity against the regime in Syria, before the revolution began and after. In every sentence he wrote, he targeted corruption and tyranny. Every word he uttered was a “bullet” aimed at hearts of stone with blood on their hands. Every scene, every chapter, every movement, every gesture, opened the door to another heated battle between Fouad Homaira and the gangs of organized looting of Syria’s wealth and the chauvinist Baath Party that worked day and night to keep the Syrian people ignorant, poor, sick, and homeless. Many of them worked outside the country in the harshest professions and jobs, transferring the money to Syria so that the fat cats that Hafez and Bashar Assad raised and released upon the Syrian people could prosper even as they devoured their living flesh and drank their fresh blood.

Even on the personal and physical level, Homaira fought endless wars and conflicts, some of which he won, and others in which he was defeated.

Homaira was not just a playwright or a political activist. He was a complex compilation of unusual thoughts and unprecedented feelings. He analyzed everything, even the questions he was supposed to be searching for answers to. In the midst of this murky environment and foggy atmosphere, anxiety and uncertainty dominated every situation. Anxiety and uncertainty were reflected in his unstable and ever-changing social relationships that were constantly fluctuating between positivity and negativity, between conflict and harmony. Even on the personal and physical level, Homaira fought endless wars and conflicts, some of which he won, and others in which he was defeated.

As with any Alawite activist, all eyes were focused on him because Assad did not dare to touch him, but rather demanded that he leave. Outside Syria, he worked to organize Alawite political activity into groups and parties. He joined the Syrian Coalition of Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as a piece that completed the puzzle of the social construct and ethnic diversity that existed in Syria.

This political activity was crowned by cooperation with the Syrian Democratic Council and a visit to the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, seeing for himself what had been accomplished on the ground in rebuilding society according to the foundations of integration, cooperation and equality after decades of marginalization, racial discrimination and apartheid committed by the Assad regime against Kurds and Arabs and other ethnic and racial groups in the eastern Euphrates region. He was one of the strongest supporters and advocates of the Autonomous Administration experience, and called for its development and generalization throughout Syria.

Homaira lived, maneuvering the wolves, exposing them and disgracing them in public, exposing their corruption, criminality and bloodiness. 

Although this step cost him alienation from the official Syrian opposition, he was happy because he thought he had once again sided with the herd of gazelles and not remained a member of the pack of wolves. Fouad lived like a gazelle wandering between several forests and plains. From one hill to another, Homaira lived, maneuvering the wolves, exposing them and disgracing them in public, exposing their corruption, criminality and bloodiness. 

After being detained and released by the regime’s security forces in 2013, Homaira’s wandering took him from France, to Turkey, and finally to Egypt where it ended on June 14, 2024 while living in exile. Fouad Homaira may have departed from us in the flesh but his memory remains as a noble, mischievous gazelle who courageously challenged a ravenous pack of wolves.

Abdulrahman Rabboa
Abdulrahman Rabboa
Syrian writer, editor and journalist; member of the Syrian Journalists Association (SJA); political and human rights activist

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