By Mohanad Hage Ali
Across long, empty hallways where walls turned grey after failed attempts to paint them white, echoes of Soviet nurses’ footsteps intensify as they approach the sleeping hall of Michel Abou Rjeili and several other “patients”. The footsteps were an early warning sign for the anticipated injection, “enough to sedate an elephant”, Abou Rjeili recalls his vivid memory of this 1983 Ukranian psychiatric ward, where the word “patient” was often synonymous to “political dissident”.
Michel, then a student at Kiev’s State Theatre Institute, suffered a nervous breakdown after learning that both his parents, Fouad and Zmorroud Abou Rjeili, were among hundreds of civilians killed in a massacre in their hometown Bhamdoun at the peak of Lebanon’s Civil War. When admitted, a psychiatrist interrogated him “KGB style”, asking “no questions on the reasons behind the nervous breakdown”. After three months of injections, Abou Rjeily’s condition grabbed the attention of a visiting Lebanese Communist Party “comrade”. Checked out, he escaped Ukraine and the Soviet Union “for good”.
The news of Sheikh Abdul Hadi Arwani’s assassination in North London has taken an interesting twist with a blog post from a controversial Syrian journalist/blogger. The Daily Mail, quoting the Sun, had posted that Arwani, 48 years old, was the imam at the al-Nour mosque, where former convicts who converted to Islam pray, suggesting a possible “gang” feud:
A North Korean delegation met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to improve relations recently, just days before the presidential elections. Assad stressed that the relations between the two countries “stem from the common destiny of their peoples.” The Official North Korean and Syrian news agencies, KCNA and SANA respectively, signed a cooperation agreement; both sides pledged “quality control” to match each other’s professional standards.