Archive for October 2009

Assyriska Player Attacked by 4 Syrianska Fans: Hitting the Red Zone

Whether you blame it on Sweden’s laughable and fragile legal system, or the idiocy of some punks, what happened last Sunday in Södertälje, Sweden is beyond appalling and outrageous.

For simply being Assyrian and playing for Assyriska, 18 years old Gabriel Awrohum was attacked by 4 Syrianska fans, when he was at a bar and refused their orders to strip of his Assyriska jersey.  Being Assyrian and playing for Assyriska is like the ultimate role model for some Assyrian youth, but to these punks, it was a matter of hate, jealousy, hooliganism and pure idiocy.

Assyriska and Syrianska both play in the second highest Swedish league, the Superettan (one tier below the super league,  ‘Allsvenskan’), and throughout the years, a lot of rival animosity has been brewing between the two teams and their respective fans. It has become much more than a soccer rivalry.  It has spilled into other aspects of life including politics and religion, which is ironic because history and religion is what divides these two communities (Soryuyo and Oromoyo.)  About a month ago, when Assyriska beat Syrianska, one of Assyriska’s community buildings was set on fire, and although no one has officially been charged, all fingers point to zealous and envious Syrianska fans.

Enough is enough! We and they got to put a stop to this, before it becomes something of a much larger scale, at which point Swedish authorities will be powerless to stop. Here is what needs to happen:

-Religion and Sports: First and foremost, the Aramaic religious establishment needs to stop getting itself involved in this sports rivalry.  Isn’t it enough that they already get involved in political matters, now want to poison the soccer pitch with their hate pitch?  Let us make peace not hate and divisions.  It is one thing to bless a team ( which the Pope of the Vatican has done before) and quiet another when you get involved to the point of almost turning into ‘religious hooliganism’

Syrianska team officials have to condemn the stupid and criminal activities of their fans.  Staying quiet is sending the wrong signal.  This is supposed to be a civilized team playing in a civilized country.  Why should team management allow bunch of crazy fans to tarnish its image?  Sure it can’t be responsible for the action of every one of its fans, but coming out and condemning the criminal activities of its fans would set the record straight.

Swedish Football Federation: what about these guys? In most major soccer federations, penalties, sometimes severe ones, are often levied against teams with misbehaving fans.  It seems like the SFF is not assertive nor decisive enough and this can only give the green light to these fans to continue doing what they are doing.

Officials at the city of Södertälje: the city of Södertälje is sitting on a an Assyrian goldmine.  It is the ultimate dream destination for thousands of Assyrian soccer fans from all over the world, to watch Assyriska play.  This means lots of tourist money for the local economy of a relatively small city.  But fans will be discouraged and think twice about coming, after hearing of all these negative things.  In cooperation with the police, the city should take a tougher stand against all the Syrianska mad men, arsonists and gangsters.  They are risking losing control of their city and its global image, if it had any to begin with.

-Assyrians Everywhere: we too should strongly condemn this, and show our full support for Assyriska, its players, and specifically Gabriel Awrohum, the player who was attacked.  Let us ensure every Assyriska home match is a sell-out.  Let us buy their merchandise, online broadcasts, and anything that will show them our support.

Assyriska to Assyrians has become more than a soccer team.  It is a whole cultural and global brand that thousands of Assyrians are in love with.  So it is no wonder that when Assyriska suffers a loss, its fans get attacked by opposing fans, or in the case of the latest Syrianska fans stupidity of attacking an Assyriska player, the entire Assyrian nation should be up in arms.  If politics and churches can’t unite us, why not let a soccer team do it?

Syrianska fans have showed us just how uncivilized they can be.  Assyriska fans can respond with just as much violence and revenge, but that is not the route we will or should take, simply because we are better!  We are not the ‘cradle of civilizations’ by coincidence.  In the long term, Syrianska could see itself relegated to lower divisions while Assyriska makes it back to the Allsvenskan (super Swedish league), where the Assyriamn flag could be waving high and proud in other European cities.

Assyriska chooses to play soccer and with pride and class.  Syrianska are choosing to play with fire and in a rather low class.  And no, I won’t differentiate between the fans and the team itself, until the latter acknowledges the problem and publicly calls out the irresponsible acts of its fans.

Forza Assyriska!

(for complete coverage and Assyriska fans reaction to this incident, visit our Assyriska forums)

Is the Internet Helping or Hurting Assyrian Music?

The last time you listened to an Assyrian song online, did you pause for a second and asked yourself: “Am I helping Assyrian music or hurting it by doing this simple act of listening to an Assyrian song online?”

Well you could be doing both! Welcome to the world of online music, where virtually any song or album is available for downloading, either free or commercially, depending on how you like to get it!  And that of course is both a good and a bad thing. Good in that we can now sell music online and not have to rely on CDs, which only carry new songs, and is often difficult to find old albums on them.  So, the Internet after all, can help the Assyrian music industry and the Assyrian song as a cultural component. But it can also hurt it. Let us look at both, the positive and negative aspects to how the Internet can help or hurt Assyrian music.

To begin with, what is the solution to finding Assyrian songs that are no longer available to buy on traditional CD format? How about a system like iTunes? With such a digital download system, you will never have to worry about not being able to find old songs.  In fact, this website (Assyrian Voice) is ready to work and collaborate on such a project with anyone who is willing to take on this challenge. We have the fan base and resources to make it work.  Naturally, such a digital market place will be commercial, and not free, with the majority of revenue going to Assyrian singers.   This is one way where the internet can help promote and help Assyrian music.

We would be fooling ourselves to think that such a system would be popular with Assyrians! At least not right away.  In the long term, it is a different story though, and people will appreciate how useful such a system would be.  We are new to this digital age and when it is all said and done, Assyrians will realize that the Internet is to be used to help Assyrian music and not to hurt it. So instead of using the Internet to hurt our Assyrian music by copying and downloading songs illegally and free, you help it grow and make it widely available, while still getting something back for the singers.  Downloading an Assyrian song for free should be considered a social crime, or worse, like breaking a cultural taboo.  Our parents and society in general have taught us not to steal. Well, next time you get an Assyrian song for free, you are virtually stealing.  Except that your guilt will not bother you, simply because you don’t see the person you are stealing from.

Having an iTunes-like system for Assyrian music will also end the age-old excuse of ‘I am only downloading this Assyrian song or album because it is not available at any store for purchase.’  This excuse is genuine with a lot of people of course, and since that is the case, we know we have a market to start with: people who are ready and willing to buy Assyrian music in a digital format, since they are unable to find the album in a traditional CD format.

Some Western singers have come to the conclusion that they can’t win the war on illegal downloading.  Some have gone as far as to give their recordings for free, in hopes that this in turn will help them in promoting their music brand, sell more concert tickets, merchandise and some premium products.  In other words, might as well give what is already being obtained at no cost, for free, but in a legal and mutually beneficial way.  I am not sure if Assyrian singers can follow suit, because they can’t make much from their live performances-only a few can still make a living from weddings-or selling other merchandise and premium products. Consequently, giving out their content for free won’t cut it yet, even if it will get them extra publicity.

Another thing about the Internet is that it has put us closer and more personal with Assyrian singers. You can easily get in touch with almost any singer through their email, website, fan pages, MySpace or Facebook.  Is this a good thing?  For some, it is a great thing that the barrier between them and their favorite singer has been removed.  From the singers’ prospective, they also have an easier time getting to us. A singer can instantly update thousands of his or her fans with a simple web update, Twitter or Facebook announcement.

As good as this may sound, not everyone is happy about it.  I am actually one of those who are not very happy about the new reality and how much closer we have gotten to our singers.  Why not? Simply because the closer we get to them, the less legendary and respected their career becomes in our eyes.  It is one thing to get more exposure to their music, and make it more widely available for preview and purchase, but quiet another to be close to them on a personal and social basis.  Think for a second about some legendary Assyrian singers and their status in the 80s and 90s, and how much it has changed ever since, given how much exposure we have had of them in public.  In other words, the downside of singers’ hyper-connectedness is that there is less of the traditional fame element or mystique factor that has been associated with them.  There is a reason why Biba is a legend, other than how good his music was!

So after all that you have read about the internet and how it can help or hurt the Assyrian music, what is the conclusion? There is certainly a place for the Internet when it comes to Assyrian music but only to promote and help sell it.  But to make the Internet like a free public market place to distribute Assyrian music, should never be accepted nor tolerated by any Assyrian, singer or listener!  It is imperative and would make a lot of economic sense to have a paid digital market place for Assyrian music, which will contain virtually any Assyrian album ever produced.  In the long term, the internet can be used to both promote and sell Assyrian music.  Such a financial and moral incentive will ensure our singers and musicians are creative and inspired enough to always produce the best.