15 APRIL 2013


A revived old poem has been recently circulating in Arab electronic networks. It is by the late Syrian poet Nizar Kabbani, a native of Damascus who had to go into self-exile and died in London. The poem was forbidden not only in Syria but by governments throughout the Arab world.

Following are translated adaptation of some extracts. The Arabic text is also extracted:

Nothing survived from our history books
No honour, no horses no more.
No swords.
Our knights fell
Abandoned their sandals
Smuggled their money abroad
Left their children.
Men turned into Women. Women into Men.
They all disappeared into the coffee shops of oblivion.
Entered rat holes.
Double-faced and scared.
Could a human find peace with Humiliation?
Allah, what Times?!


Do you know who I am?
A citizen of "Opressistan"
It is a state; not an Egyptian joke
Nor a literary fiction.
The land of "Opressistan"
Was mentioned in a litany of states
Its most important export?
Leather bags from human flesh
Would you wish a summary?
It's the land that extends
From North Africa to "Oilistan"
From the shores of repression
To the beaches of murder;
The shores of killings
To the beaches of sorrow.
Its monarchs, by inheritance
Sit tight on people's necks.
By inheritance, they hate
Any pen or paper, any pen or ink
Its constitution declares the human instinct
To speak freely should be absolutely cancelled.
Allah, What Times?!


Would you know who I am
A citizen who dreams one day
To be treated like an animal;
A citizen afraid of having coffee
As the State may emerge from the cup;
Afraid of approaching his wife
As security monitored my place
A citizen, I am from the people of Opressistan
Afraid to enter any mosque
For fear that I was practicing my faith.
Allah, What Times.