Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.

×

Sponge Bob ‘Jeysh al Hurr’

Ewa Jasiewicz discovers an unexpected symbol of the Syrian revolution in the fourth part of her blog series.

August 11, 2013
3 min read


Ewa JasiewiczEwa Jasiewicz is a Palestine solidarity activist, union organiser and part of the editorial collective of Le Monde Diplomatique Polish Edition.


  share     tweet  

Children_SyriaOur first glimpse of Syria is through the eyes of hundreds of children living in the Bab Al Hawa refugee camp on the Turkish Border. We’re in Juan Zero’s art studio – a tent about 10 metres long and 4 metres wide with wind billowing through it, rustling hundreds of crayon-drawn pictures by children aged between 5-14.

Juan is a Syrian activist and cartoonist who set up Jasmine Baladi Studio at the camp nine months ago. On any given day a hundred children can cram up to the tent door screaming with joy to get in. Groups rotate, 30 kids all sit round a long table, quietly drawing, gently encouraged by male and female youth volunteers.

The pictures are overwhelmingly positive: sunny houses, flowers, animals, birds. ‘We don’t let them dwell on the past’, explains Juan, ‘We want them to focus on the future. The past for many of these children is horrific’. There are some of the usual drawings of blunt bullets firing out of box-y tanks and out of clunky planes onto red-scratched stick bodies that could be from any war zone.

But the predominant image popping up across the gallery-walls is bizarrely Sponge Bob Square Pants. And not just any Sponge Bob. We’re talking Sponge Bob Jaish al Hurr (Free Army Sponge Bob), waving the new Syrian Independence flag, raising a rifle, wearing military fatigues even. The kids have adapted Sponge Bob into a symbol of the Syrian revolution.

*Some names have been changed

This is the fourth part of a six day serialization of Ewa’s trip to Syria. It accompanies Jon Sack’s beautiful reportage from the Syrian border in comic form: The Physio.

Ewa Jasiewicz is a journalist and campaigner. She is part of a small international solidarity initiative working to support grassroots groups in Syria. Please support these organisations:

www.facebook.com/JmaetBsmtAml

Karama Bus children’s relief project in Kafranbel

Juan Zero’s Jasmine Baladi studio in Bab al Hawa Camp


Ewa JasiewiczEwa Jasiewicz is a Palestine solidarity activist, union organiser and part of the editorial collective of Le Monde Diplomatique Polish Edition.


Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.

Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu

Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns

Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism

Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists

Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson

As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win

The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution

Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.

‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition

#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny