What is a Syrian?

Fathi Al-Atarmani - Syrian Al-Hudood Correspondent

What is a Syrian? image

Despite the Syrian’s frequent appearance on the news—listed in the same breath as every economic crisis, robbery, and uptick in increased unemployment, in every accident, incident, and drowning—the Syrian remains an elusive figure to thinkers in the humanitarian and political science spheres. This ambiguity is evident in sociological literature, which has, since 2011, increasingly substituted terms like "human" and "citizen" with "crisis," "situation," or "issue."

The Syrian: A Definition

A Syrian is a person holding a dark blue document that’s worth about $1000, commonly referred to as a “Syrian passport.” Depending on the situation, the Syrian is either a living, breathing human being or an abstract concept. This changes the minute the Syrian finally replaces their dark blue document with a burgundy one, called a “European Union passport.”

Types of Syrian and Their Uses

There are different value estimates on the Syrian, depending on the sociological school of thought. In Syria itself, the President views the Syrian as chattel, worth about a bullet or the effort to type up a report. In Europe, the Syrian is among Europe’s top three talking points. Turkish President Recep Erdoğan considers the Syrian an ace up his sleeve, playable whenever his critics in the European Union start stepping out of line. In Lebanon, the Syrian is a Rorschach test, and, depending on the observer, looks like Ghazi Kanaan, the 2020 Beirut port explosion, Riad Salameh, or Hassan Nasralla. Finally, the Syrian is a database of UNHCR, especially at the annual Brussels Syria Conference for donors.

Locating the Syrian

If the Syrian isn’t found on a missing persons database, they’ll be found in the drawers of an embassy in Beirut, Amman, or Cairo. The very lucky ones will find their files sliding across the desk of an immigration or naturalisation office.

The Future of the Syrian

Regardless of classification and the means they take to survive, the Syrian exists, and they are human. But because of a general feeling that whoever has no past has no future, the Syrian is being deported, returned to a 185,000 km2 reserve used prior to 2011 to shield them off from complex concepts such as equality, citizenship, and justice.