Abu Farouq had participated in the Evening Prayer. He left the mosque, taking a stroll with one of his friends. The street was dark and the electricity had been cut. Suddenly, two armed men attacked him, shooting him directly in the stomach. He was taken to the hospital, but had lost a lot of blood. He needed plasma, which was not available. Four young men went out to look for blood for him, but they never returned; no one has ever heard from them again. It is believed they were arrested or kidnapped. Abu Farouq bled to death without getting the plasma that he needed.
“Perhaps, the people of my city have never agreed on anything as much as your love, your faith in the revolution, and on your high morals. You have gathered many of those who opposed your opinions and ideas, but you have accepted all of them with magnanimity. The world of ideal thoughts was the space where I joined and knew you. Today, I have known you as a martyr". These were the words issued by a close friend of Bassam Al-Bassleh (a.k.a Abu Farouq) after he was killed by the regime.
Abu Farouq was born in the city of Al-Tal in 1964. His friends remember him as the "third lantern"of the Syrian revolution after Mashaal Tammo, from Qamishli, and Adnan Wehbi, from Douma. He was murdered by the regime and its Shabbiha militias in their attempt to erase the revolutionary and political ideas present since the beginning of the revolution.
Bassam Al-Bassleh was one of the first participants in the revolution. His friends from all around Damascus countryside said, that before the sparks of the revolution in the city of Al-Tal, Abu Farouq along with other activists went to the city of Douma, which preceded other cities in the countryside with its revolutionary activities, to participate in the demonstrations calling for the toppling of the regime. Then they transferred their activities and sparked demonstrations in their own city.
Abu Farouq helped organize demonstrations, and was among those who participated in the preparations for the revolution before its launch on 15 March, 2011. He was one of the first people to be wanted by the regime. The regime chased him closely, raiding his house many times, but he always escaped. He had been in hiding for three years, and rarely returned to his house. He lived in the houses of his relatives and friends, and in his shop.
When the army invaded al-Tal, with huge force, they again raided Abu Farouq’s house, and assaulted his family. After that, he disappeared for a long time. Everybody thought he had been arrested, but he returned from hiding to reorganize the revolutionary movement and the relief work in his city. He hosted many displaced people from Eastern Gouta and to this day, many displaced families remember his name, saying: "God have Mercy on you, Abu Farouq, you have sheltered and fed us, you were the revolution’s best image."
Struggling for a civil state
Abu Farouq believed in the peaceful revolution. He was one of the types who gathered people around them. His belief in the Syrian people was unwavering. One day, after he participated in a major revolutionary operation, he said: "It is a reality that our people are kind and great and very responsible. The most important thing is to give them the right ideas that touch their suffering, and never give them orders or sermons or advice that make them feel that you are treating them with a sense of superiority."
No one can begin to understand the difficulty of hiding in areas that are under regime control and at the same time, act as an organizer and a participant in the revolutionary movement, except those who lived this almost impossible equation. Abu Farouq's family was threatened and some were kidnapped, but, says his friend Ahmad Hejazi, he refused to leave Syria, always saying: "If we did not move here inside, we would do nothing outside. If we did not cry out "Freedom" here in our country, and helped the displaced people and the orphans, what is the value of our work?"
The martyr always repeated that "we should never stop our work for our homeland, not even for a second."
He believed in the civil state and the "state of freedom", as he called it, and this was his source of guilt. He worked to educate and founded the Citizenship and Democracy Movement. He was a link between all the people, even those who were opposed to his opinion and approach. The warm smile barely left his tolerant face, but with the intensification of the situation in Syria and the proliferation of weapon and chaos, Abu Farouq, like many others, began to show resentment and dissatisfaction at the developments making the revolution stray off its original path.
He went to discuss the situation with other groups, and tried to raise awareness, facing all the accusations against him. That made him sad, but he never stop defending the revolution, saying: "We were living in a swamp with a clear surface reflecting the color of the sky. But, when the revolution’s river flowed we start seeing all the dirt, the bacteria, and the rot. Despite all our frustration and fragmentation, we are so much better than what we had been, because at least we know the reality of what we were living under before the revolution. The cleansing process will take time, and we have to accept the process to build a better future for the next generation. A revolution that has been delayed for a thousand years will cost very much."
Abu Farouq was politically active. He had been a member of the Socialist Union Party, and the Association of anti-Zionism. However, with the promise of the Arab Spring, he quickly aligned with the revolution and the popular uprising.
For more than a decade and a half, he organized and participated in demonstrations in Damascus in support of the popular uprising of the Palestinians and the siege of Jenin, and then, he had a role in all the events that swept Damascus during the occupation of Iraq. He saw the pain common among Arabs. Before the revolution, he was among a group of people like Ghiath Matar and Iyad Sharbaji and others who gathered in Douma city in preparation for the revolution in the countryside.
He believed in democracy as a way of living, and applied it in his daily life. He repeated in his meetings with the sons of his city, and in the mosque, and on his Facebook page which gathered supporters and opponents and deniers. "Our democracy is progressing and your tyranny will recede," he said. "There is no doubt that the authoritarian regimes have largely succeeded in preventing the concepts of freedom, democracy, citizenship and the civil state from reaching a large segment of society, and even made them fight and reject them, in order to continue to control us, our wealth and our future. But it is impossible; our democracy is progressing and your tyranny will recede."
The martyr Abu Farouq left his family, his revolution, and his country whose freedom he believed in, on 14 February, 2014. He has left a dream to come true in the hands of those revolutionaries who remained. His smile is still saying that hope does not die.