Two years ago I visited Damascus. It’s an incredible city and one that I thoroughly urge you to visit too once the current situation in Syria is nothing but a bad memory. I’m desperate to go there again myself, but for now that’s an impossibility. However, I shall leave the marketing of Damascus to the future Syrian Tourist Board. What I want to write about here is a souvenir that I brought back from that trip: a Hezbollah mug.
The guy with the beard and the glasses is Hassan Nasrallah – he’s Hezbollah’s leader – and underneath him a couple of his minions are about to fire a missile.
For those of you who aren’t so familiar with Hezbollah, this mug sums up fairly well what they’re all about. Nasrallah is the big guy who tells Hezbollah members what they should be doing and who they should be doing it to, and pretty often that involves firing deadly weapons at people they don’t like. Traditionally the people that Hezbollah don’t like are Israeli, but just recently they’ve changed tack and have started directing their dislike and their missiles at the Syrian opposition instead.
Hezbollah literally means ‘the party of Allah’. But as anyone with even a basic understanding of Islam knows, Allah does not involve himself in manmade politics. So the idea that an Islamic organisation can claim to be the party that represents him is both contradictory and laughable, especially when their current raison d’être is killing their fellow Muslims. But I digress.
I found the mug in a shop in the Old City which was exclusively dedicated to Assad/ Hezbollah/ Ahmadinejad memorabilia. Ever seen the (former) President of Iran’s face on a fridge magnet? I have. I’d become used to the lionising of the leaders of the Shia troika in Damascus – there were posters of the three of them everywhere – but this was on another level. When I saw the mug I just had to have it, not because I’m a fan of Hezbollah, but because I never thought that crockery could be quite so political. I’m also a big fan of tat.
So for the past two years Hassan Nasrallah has been a regular at my breakfast table. He’s been a receptacle for builder’s tea, green tea, fruit tea, Earl Grey, and even a few Cup-a-Soups. But something rather unfortunate has happened to him.
Where has Hassan gone?
I’d like to make it clear at this point that I do not own a dishwasher and have never subjected Hassan’s face to anything more than a gentle scrub in temperate water with Fairy Liquid. The only possible explanation is that the craftsmanship on this mug is as shoddy as the Party of Allah’s current behaviour in Syria. Yes, I have been ripped off by Hezbollah. Given their current activities I also regret adding to their coffers in the first place, even if it did only cost 200 Syrian Lira. Maybe I should ask for a refund.