Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Everybody loves dictator jokes . . . .

One day, a Syrian lawyer decides he is fed up with the human rights situation in his country. Having had enough, he takes to the street. He carries a wooden crate to the city square, stands on top of it and begins to shout:
“Where are our civil rights?”
“Where is our freedom?
“Where is our free press?”
“Where are the schools and hospitals we were promised?”
“Where are our free and fair elections?”
“Where are you taking me? Wait, wait, where are you taking me?”

A joke about Simba (this is the code my friends use to talk about the Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad because the name Al-Assad means “The Lion” and Bashar is the son of the original lion, the late Hafez Al-Assad).

So, in Syria, they practice military conscription – and it’s difficult to get out of. Those privileged enough to be members of the Alawi sect (the President’s sect) get to serve their military terms in Damascus, but almost as a rule, Damascenes who must serve in the army are sent into the hinterlands – the equivalent of sending someone from New York to live in Bangladesh for 2 years.

So – for quite some time there’s been an influx of people from the reef (the countryside) moving to Damascus after they serve their terms in the military – because for these people the military is often a source of social mobility. Well, Bashar Al Assad has a strange characteristic – the back of his head is completely flat. So those Syrians who are not lucky enough to be members of the Alawi sect say that this happens to all Alawites because their mothers hit them on the back of the head with a frying pan and say, “Get your ass to Damascus.”

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