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Social Affairs Ministry, Islamic Relief Organization in France Agree on Providing Aid to Crisis Victims

DAMASCUS, (ST) - Ministry of Social Affairs and the Islamic Relief Organization in France on Tuesday signed an agreement on conveying humanitarian aid to victims of the crisis in Syria.

The French organization is due to send the first of its aid convoys today which marks the first day of the holy month of Ramadan.

Minister of Social Affairs Kinda al-Shammat said taht according to the agreement, the organization will provide assistance to orphans and will assess the needs of the families staying in temporary shelters.

She affirmed the ministry's keenness to facilitate and ensure the arrival of the aid to those who deserve wherever they are in Syria and in complete neutrality.

The Executive director of the French Islamic Relief Organization Muheddin Khladi pointed out that in the light of the agreement, the organization will try to enhance the abilities of the crisis-hit victims. It will also carry out water projects and provide food assistance represented in 10 thousand food baskets to help these families live better conditions.

The Islamic Relief Organization in France is one of the most notable five French organizations working in the humanitarian field. Its activities cover 15 countries, but its work in Syria started in 2009.

H. Mustafa

Talkalakh: Great Coexistence Story

In the mid of violence and congestion scenes afflicting the country for more than two years, a glimmer of hope appears as new method of treatment is adopted. This method has been welcomed by many people yet been attacked by others. Reconciliation is the bold title of the initiative taken last week by the governor's convoy to Talkalakh, where armed terrorists have heavy presence. The large convoy included senior officials from the army, security, government and the city’s dignitaries.

This visit is not the first made by state representatives and civil society. Nevertheless, it is held under the auspice of great efforts made by the Reconciliation Committee in the province represented by its head, Sheikh Saleh Al Nuaimi. He considers his effort and the Committee’s members one, along with Talkalakh's reconciliation proceedings being an important step towards ending the crisis.

"Holding this  direct dialogue between clans and tribes on one hand, and armed groups on the other helps building confidence between all components of the society. The constructive dialogue that dominated the meeting led to end the armed presence in this city, as it allowed the state to impose its control and legitimacy upon the city; making those who take up arms against the state to be again state supporters against  Takfiri terrorist groups who are trying to infiltrate from neighboring Lebanon."

All participating parties have accepted the initiative stressing that this country is for all Syrians, and they can bring all things to the table. They had faith in dialogue and acceptance of the other's thoughts and differences. Everyone agree to forgive in order to rebuild  homeland through making the city’s peace model an example to be followed in other Syrian cities. Consequently, an immediate rehabilitation of the city processed, as well as a number of maintenance workshops entered the city to restore what have been sabotaged such as water, electricity and communications.

As we toured the city, every one asserted that many countries wanted to ruin Syria, the Syrian human being, and Syrian society moral foundations. Nonetheless, that didn't not happen, since Syrians can talk about and discuss anything. This country is for all Syrians, and they can bring all things to the table.

They stressed that "Syria is indisputably non conquerable and the coming days would but highlight the unique Syrian model of dialogue, coexistence, fraternity and stability.”

Amal Farhat

Aiding Children Affected by Terrorism

In-order to provide moral and psychological support workshops are launched for deported children living in temporary accommodation centers in Tartous.

 in-cooperation with UNICEF and the Ministry of  Culture, the Directorate of Culture in Tartous launched workshops aiming at aiding the  children  affected by terrorism of the armed groups in order to provide psychological and emotional support to help them cope with their distress.

Mr.Shaheen Shaheen, the Director of culture in Tartous emphasized the importance of this campaign for children. It included workshops supervised by specialists in the centers of their accommodation.

The ministry of Culture works for this campaign through a set of ideas and visions related to children.

Mr. shaheen indicated that this campaign is directed to boost hope for children .It gives them leeway to express their love of homeland and life through creative ways trying to surmount the stress posed by the terrorists which prevents them from practicing their daily peaceful routines.

Mona Assa'd, the responsible of the activities in the Cultural Center in the governorate indicated the value of establishing such activities which are intended to help the affected children from  other places that witnessed brutal acts of killing and violence practiced by the armed groups. This fact clearly affected their psychological status. She pointed out that the role of the Ministry and the Directorate lies in providing support for them in co-operation with other establishments caring for children and childhood .

Besides ,Assa'd mentioned that these workshops include training children in the domains of music,art,calligraphy,writing short stories and handcrafts .In addition to activities related to interactional theater and narrating stories.

The workshops function according to a specific schedule every Tuesday in all accommodation centers .At the end of each workshop there will be an exhibition to show the work of children to the public.

Children expressed their excitement about these workshops asking for holding such activities on a regular basis since they enable them to express their sorrow and pain.

 They wished that Syria would overcome this crisis and the children could be able to go back home safely to their daily life.

Zainab Makhlouf

victory Heralds

The days passed heavily for al-Kousier people. The majority of them hold on to their homes, but after a period when the armed groups abounded their attacks targeting them, they were compelled to leave the city to safer neighboring places .

Today everyone has returned to the city. Everyone feels joy and pride to liberate the land and clean it from terrorism and murder. Many of them have come to see the ruins of their homes, which were either detonated by terrorists, or used by them as weapons' stores and gathering places. "The most important is homecoming and everything will be compensated and rebuilt again. Our main interest is to save Syria and to protect its land and people against those criminals and mercenaries. The destruction of houses  is not a matter for us, what is important for us is to remain resolute so nothing would undermine our resolve".

I have recently met in al-Kousier many inhabitants coming back knowing that their homes were demolished yet returning back to prove to the whole world that Syrians cannot be defeated ."We will rebuild our Syria and bring life to our city", one of them said.

When I asked a martyr's wife, how do you feel about the Army's victory in Homs at large and in al-Kousier in particular, "victory is what condolences me and my children," she declared.

The martyr's father stressed "I've seen  my son in every soldier who was resisting and fighting valiantly on the battlefield. I feel that those soldiers are my sons hearing my son's voice in their words and cheers."  

The bereaved mother added "I saw the eyes of my martyred son in our victorious soldiers' eyes. I feel victory as a spring blooming in every martyr who returned back to the bosom of the nation 's land."

 A lot of people gathered in the vicinity of the church . They are determined to rebuild it as well as to rebuild the destroyed mosques. They told me that terrorists did not differentiate between a church or a mosque when destroying the city. They went on damaging mosques, churches as well as hospitals and all other service facilities.

 "We came back to our city to construct our church and mosque, since they are our unity's symbols. We will do our best to help the government in rehabilitating the city's facilities to come back as it was and even better", a young man stressed confidently.

Amal Farhat

Tunisian Delegation: We are against Terrorism, Incitement Fatwas Misled Our Sons


DAMASCUS, (ST) - In a bidto curb the flow of misled Tunisian youths who came to Syria to join the armed terrorist groups in what they called "Jihad" in Syria, a delegation representing the Tunisian civil society visited Syria to talk to Syrian government and civil society sides on how to tackle the issue of the Tunisians fighting in Syria and how tofacilitate their return to their homeland.

Within this framework, a  news conference was held yesterday by some representatives of civil societies in Tunisia and Syria at the Sheraton Hotel in Damascus. Speakers in the Press conference affirmed their rejection of all forms of terrorism as it can expand overseas and it has nothing to do with humanity or religion.

Leader of the Tunisian delegation, ZuheirLatif said that families of many Tunisian detainees and fighters in Syria believed that their sons were misled and motivated by what they thought was "jihad" after they were told lies about the reality of events in Syria.

He appreciated the cooperation of the Syrian authorities and civil society parties with the Tunisian delegation and the families of Tunisian detainees to facilitate their safe return to their homeland.

Latif added that following their talks, the Tunisian and civil society sides called for releasing misled Tunisian detainees who were not proved to be involved in terrorist acts or to be red handed by the blood of the Syrian people. They urged work to force armed Tunisians in Syria to lay down weapons and ensure them a just trial under international observation.

Latif stressed that the conferees called for passing the file of the Tunisian detainees who committed terrorist acts in Syria to judiciary as soon as possible in order to be put for trial.

KhaledMahjoub, a Syrian civil society activist, pointed out that the two sides agreed to sueall who have promoted extremism and violence among the youths through calls for recruiting,  financing and sheltering terrorists . They also called for working hard to specify the parties which helped Tunisian fighters infiltrate into Syria to join the armed terrorist groups.

For his part, member of the Syrian Observatory for Violence and Terrorism Victims Anas al-Jazaeri stressed the importance of forming a wide international alliance comprising legal and civil society organizations for the prosecution of all who are proved to be involved in inciting, financing and committing terrorist acts.

He also affirmed the need to condemn and put an end to religious Fatwas and statements which incite hatred, takfiri thinking and violence that destroy societies and open the door widely for wars.

On Thursday, at the Ummayyad Mosque in Damascus, a number of Syrian and Tunisian women launched an initiative under the slogan "Women against Hatred and Terrorism". The initiative aimed at halting violence and terrorism in Syria.

Members of the Tunisian civil society delegation and families of some Tunisian detainees stressed that incitement Fatwas have misled their sons .They regretted their sons' acts and begged the Syrian people to accept their apology.

H. Mustafa

Syria marks the World Environment Day

On June 5, the State Ministry for Environmental Affairs and Damascus Countryside Governorate co-organized activities to mark the world’s Environment Day.

Minister of State for Environmental Affairs Nazira Serkis and Damascus Countryside’s Governor Hussein Khallouf participated in the environmental activities in Qudsia Suburb, 18 km western Damascus, to increase the environmental awareness and culture.

The Minister, Governor and hundreds of volunteers planted 600 saplings of Damascene jasmine, pine, rose, palm and oak in the Suburb’s squares to increase the green areas.

Later, the officials moved to open an exhibition of paintings done by children of displaced families who are living in a shelter centre, in the Suburb. The children welcomed the officials at the centre’s gate , raising the Syrian flags and President Bashar al-Assad’s posters and hailing the Syrian Arab Army in its war against  terrorist groups.

The centre is run by the government to host 160 displaced families who ran away from the armed groups. Big number of these families had returned from Lebanon’s refugee camps. The children’s paintings show the terrorist attacks, crimes and sabotages perpetrated by the armed terrorist groups. Some of paintings show the heroic operations of the Syrian Arab Army and their love to their country’s flag as a symbol of the Syrians unity.

In a press conference attended by the Syria Times,  Minister of State for Environmental Affairs Nazira Serkis said that her ministry will cooperate with all ministries and concerned sides to improve environmental situation in the areas affected by terrorists and their attacks and plant  these areas to change them into green ones.  

For his part, Governor Hussein Khallouf said: “The Governorate and the Ministry are cooperating together to organize a

program on the occasion of World Environment Day to be briefed on displaced families in shelters and engage them in environmental activities.”

The Minister of State for Environmental Affairs issued a press release, get by the Syria Times,  saying: "The 2013 theme for World Environment Day is "Think.Eat.Save." This theme aims to encourage individuals to limit wastage and losses in food and decrease the amount of food waste.

Reported by O. Mohammad

Shisha: Companion of Friends' Evenings


Water pipe smoking (more precisely known as "hookah", "narghil" and "shisha") has  attracted more than billion people all over the world especially that this traditional way of smoking is perhaps as old as mankind. Media tackled this kind of smoking in terms of its social problems that are considered "dangerous". However, it cannot be denied that this tool is used daily and for long hours by more than a million persons of men and women in Asia, Africa and Europe at cafes and at homes.

Hookah, which dated back  to  four hundred years, originated in the East, and spread with the discovery of tobacco and the spread of cafes. It used to be accompanied with a cup of coffee. High class women used to smoke Hookah daily in their  houses.

 Some researchers said that a long time ago especially in the Levant, every bride trousseau had to include hookah. It is not a simple device since its length reaches sometimes two meters. It has a complex device to cool and purify the smoke by water ending with a snake-like twisted hose, which also may reach several meters in length, in addition to a number of complex issues such as the type of smoke and the means of burning this smoke and finally the time spent by Hookah lovers smoking in silence and contemplation.

As a social phenomenon, shisha smoking was concentrated in the Mediterranean countries, and practiced for long hours by all categories of people. It is curious that smoking the shisha was a thing of the past and it was linked to the lower categories of the community only, including the makers, craftsmen and the customers of the towns' cafes.

It was also smoked in the cabins and hospices scattered on the highway, which receive drivers  who want to rest and smoke shisha  with a glass of  black tea. They  sit lazily  after a long tiring manual work and enjoy smoking for a long time. But what evokes astonishment and curiosity is that shisha smoking phenomenon has returned again more strongly at the end of the twentieth and early twenty-first century by the various segments of society  including intellectuals, the educated and the illiterate  in different times than it was in the past. Smokers used to enjoy Shisha in evenings and at nights. Whereas now it  becomes a  part of the breakfast ritual. In Yemen for example, shisha was not accustomed in cafes, but nowadays, they are teeming with what is known as resting cafes which is similar to the café  we know where shisha is smoked all the time by everyone, especially young boys.

Tobacco used in hookahs is known as Molasses. It is has different fruits flavors such as apples, cantaloupe, pineapple and strawberry.

It was  mentioned that the beginning of smoking al-Molasses dated back to many centuries ago when jars of black honey, which were charged on a ship that carried next to honey a shipment of tobacco leaves, were broken. So honey mixed with tobacco, the merchant began to  cry for his loss, then he tried to find a solution so he could save some of the consignment. He tried to smoke tobacco mixed with honey but that did not succeed , so he experimented smoking it by placing it in stone pottery and put burning coal above it 

Shisha has spread faster. Authorities in different countries such as Egypt and the United Arab Emirates tried to control or even prevent Shisha smoking in hotels and public places but it was  useless. In Tunisia, the authorities banned shisha smoking in public places, so some people outwitted this prohibition by putting  shisha inside the cafe, and made its long hose pass through the window and smoke outdoors. 

Places of smoking shisha changed from public cafes to cafeterias in the luxury hotels and places inhabited by rich people .. The  customers are now from all segments of society.

Some people said that the unprecedentedly growing number of cafeterias and coffee houses, where shisha is smoked, is because of the great  increase in the rate of unemployment among young people besides the lack of the social clubs that absorb the vast number of youths.

The amazing thing about hookah is that it had been developed so as to lend some sense of health security. The most surprising was that the owner of this preventive development was "Dokdok", the  illiterate cafe boy, who has no qualifications in life except his ability to proclaim in a prolonged loud voice " you have one apple Shisha for Pasha and Salehowoowoowo!".  Dokdok decided to put a piece of aluminum paper on a piece of pottery (the stone) which contains molasses, then he enveloped the stone so well. After that he placed coal over the aluminum paper so heat could penetrate to Molasses to give the required smoke without being penetrated by the burning coal ashes.  "Dokdok" thought  that  this "development" will beautify  bubble stock rather than the stone pottery and will lead to a clean smoke.


Amal Farhat