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Knowing the Revolution by Heart

23 May 2013 No Comment

Caroline Ayoub

Caroline Ayoub
Damascus, Syria

“I had decorated Easter chocolate eggs with ribbons, and on each ribbon I wrote a verse from both the Bible and the Quran, because I wanted the Syrian children to be aware of our unity.”


Throughout the past year many came to understand the complexities of the Syrian society, and women’s roles in this society are no exception. The male/female roles in Syrian society have changed a lot since the beginning of the Syrian revolution. Many Syrian women who had been prisoners to a routine lifestyle broke the status quo and began new lives, changing their lives and the lives of others too.

Since the beginning of the revolution, Syrian woman were and still are the core block in the Syrian revolution, holding the torch to freedom, just like the statue of liberty. The media has highlighted a few of these women, and many have become recognizable. However, there are many more out there that have not yet earned the recognition they deserve. I strongly believe through my own on-the-ground experience that there is an insurmountable number of courageous women struggling and sacrificing to achieve freedom, dignity, justice, and equality for all from behind the scenes who no one has heard of.

At first, I was not able to define my role in the revolution – maybe because we never dreamed of having a revolution, so it is new to us, to our generation. Maybe at first, I wasn’t able to define my role, but I believe in my instincts, and I knew one thing for sure ; I have to say my word. I have to contribute to my people’s move. I have to express myself as I wish and just as I wish. My close circle of family and friends warned me many times that getting involved meant trouble, but the fact is that those who decide to join a revolution are usually stubborn people. Within time, like all experiences in my life, I discovered things by just doing them. I am not a theoretical person in general and I am more of an extrovert.

Yes, there was much danger in being involved, but the revolution itself was not dangerous. In fact, the revolution is a bold and concrete movement, here to stay. At least this is what I believed and still believe. In time this helped me face disappointments and turn them into opportunities. At first I wouldn’t see matters as such, however, slowly but surely I became more tolerant and understood that it is natural for change to happen, pain will come with it, struggle too, and society’s illnesses will come to the surface. Thus, we have to accept the harsh circumstances and turn them into even more desire for better change.

In the first few months of the revolution it was about providing humanitarian aid to families in need, then I started to meet civil activists, and things started to evolve. I found it very important to have our voice heard so I managed to link local societies to international media. I helped smuggle in journalists to hot spots, and arranged for them to meet with people on the front lines. There was so much to do, and so much running around full throttle to get things done secretly and securely, that I would forget who I have met through activists along the way. Every civil action I took made me closer to being caught by the Syrian security forces. However, the more I contributed to the revolution, the more possibilities there were to be discovered. This was indeed the heart of the struggle, because the Syrian regime wants people to be passive, and the people no longer accept that.

Caroline Ayoub (pictured), along with Honey Al Sayed and two other male friends - all of whom had to flee Syria, co-founded RO'YA Association for a Better Syria. Its first successful project is Radio SouriaLi.

As an activist, I never used an alias to secure my real identity. I didn’t believe in hiding. Maybe this is childish, but every time I was thinking about what the Syrian security forces could do to me, I ended up with the same answer: It is the youth of Syria, the teenagers from Dar’aa, who lit the spark to our peaceful revolution, so why should I be scared?

As a result I was detained in solitary confinement for the month of April 2012. I was detained for distributing Easter chocolate eggs to displaced Homsi kids in the Damascus suburbs. I had decorated Easter chocolate eggs with ribbons, and on each ribbon I wrote a verse from both the Bible and the Quran, because I wanted the Syrian children to be aware of our unity.

This brings me to say that Syrian women were in the center of all the action, they were and still are the core of the revolution. No wonder so many banners had a feminine aspect, as many slogans did too. For example, one of the earliest slogans in the revolution was, “Hold on, my country, the freedom is being born” – literally a clear feminine aspect.

To better understand the role of Syrian women in the revolution, and how that role changed positively in the revolution, you need to hear it from the Syrian men of the revolution. I was in a gathering once in rural Damascus where a man jokingly said: “We need a revolution against our women after the regime falls. We need to bring them back to their traditional roles!” The other man replied laughing: “It’s much easier to defeat Bashar Al Assad than to defeat rebellious women like ours!” Everyone laughed.

Maybe it’s not a joke, maybe it’s a threatening thought, but it is still a real statement that depicts the escalating influencing power of Syrian women in revolution time. They have been raped, exploited, widowed, and beaten, but they never stop calling for freedom, dignity, and justice.

I believe that desire and motivation is in the heart of every single Syrian woman. They just need recognition, honor, support, and education. They need to learn how to demand their rights. They need to maintain their courage and persistence by committing to build a new Syria.


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