Last time The Little White Donkey strayed from the humdrum of my header 'family life in rural Cyprus' was during the Gaza War. It's straying again – off the beaten path and into the murky territory of neighbouring lands and neighbouring struggles – because this morning, in my dawn skim of the International Press, I saw that Amina Abdullah Araf al Omari (The 'Gay Girl in Damascus' whose daily posts have been one of the links between the people of Syria and the outside world) was yesterday taken into custody by armed men whose car had an Assad sticker.
As yet her family have not posted word of her whereabouts or well-being. They are working and praying for her speedy release, and taking comfort in the idea that, had the regime wanted her dead, they would have killed her already. Perhaps her dual nationality – she holds American as well as Syrian citizenship – and the recent wide readership of her blog will act as shields.
Amina knew the risks. In her recent posts she has described the precautions that she and her father have been taking in case they were detained.
I have thought about her all morning. As I cleaned the house, watered the garden, walked the dog, not far from my thoughts were the hideous thoughts that a brave woman who wanted to be free in a free society (read her words from two days ago, people!) and was willing to risk all for it is enduring pain and fear – if not agony and terror – only one hundred and fifty miles away. The same sun that shines on me, here, in the tranquility of my rural home and family, is shining on her. The same breeze blowing on my cheeks will soon rustle the cypresses outside Damascus. The clouds that sail by, will soon sail over her – and over the hundreds of others like her... but the others are faceless, nameless, because they don't write blogs that 1,000 people follow.
I don't know how the New Middle East will look, J – to answer the question you asked on a discussion list this morning. How can Assad think to retain power now – yet he tries? I don't think that Syria will sink to a morass of corruption, or become a fundamentalist hotspot like Iran. My optimism, and belief in the hundreds of thousands like Amina who want to shake off the repression of generations and take their place in the modern world, won't permit me to think it.
But it is my fervent wish that Amina is here to see it, to share it, and to delight in it.