Video of Syrians eating cat “appears staged”

Screen grab from the video.
 
In a video published on October 28, two men are filmed skinning, cooking and eating a cat, allegedly because they face dire food shortages in their neighbourhood of the Damascus suburbs. While it is not impossible that Syrian civilians may have resorted to this where the fighting is fiercest and life the hardest, this video appears to have been carefully staged to create maximum impact.
 
The video was first posted on the YouTube channel of a group calling itself the “South Damascus Media Bureau”, which has published several dozen other videos, mostly of rebels doing battle. The footage lasts 1 minute 30 seconds, and is titled “Catastrophic humanitarian situation: people are eating cats in the south Damascus region”.
 
The man behind the camera narrates, and talks about a fatwa – an Islamic law – pronounced by Damascus imams in October, authorising starving Syrians to eat cats and dogs. The voice says: “For those who still don’t believe it: here is the situation of residents to the south of Damascus. The sheiks pronounced their fatwas, and the people here are putting them into practice”. Contrary to pork, the Quran does not explicitly forbid eating cats or dogs. However, it is contrary to Islamic traditions. 
 
According to our Observer, who lives in Damascus, there are several details in the video that call into question its authenticity.
 
Contributors

"They don't look or act like men who are starved"

Omar is a pacifist anti-regime activist.
 
The video is described as having been filmed in a neighborhood that’s under siege by the army, where there’s no food coming in, and no one is allowed out. You would think that in a situation like this, the residents would be starved and weak. But that’s really not the sense I get from these two men in the video: they look healthy, well-dressed, and cleanly-shaved. They really don’t look like they live in a zone where fierce fighting is taking place. I also noticed that they are cooking the cat in a pot that looks quite new.
 
The last part of the video struck me as odd: the man eats a little bit of what is in his spoon – supposedly, the cat – then puts it back down in the pot, though there is still meat in the spoon. This is really not behaviour I would expect from a starved man. 
 
There are other strange details in the video. The footage, which is edited in several parts, doesn’t include any wide shots, making it impossible to identify the place where it was filmed – and whether this is indeed a neighborhood where fighting is taking place. The title of the video is also uncharacteristically vague for Syrian activists’ video, describing the location as only “south” of Damascus. It is also interesting to note that the scene in which the cat is killed seems to have been edited out of the video.
 
The video was posted online on October 28. The very next day, October 29, was “National Cat Day” in the United States, which aims to promote the adoption of stray cats. If those who filmed these images wanted to create a buzz in the United States, they couldn’t have chosen a better day.
 
Whether or not this video is staged, what is certain is that several neighborhoods south of Damascus are seeing violent clashes between the Syrian army and rebels. Last weekend, hundreds of people were evacuated from the suburb of Moadamiyet al-Sham during a temporary ceasefire. According to the BBC, several of these people had to be transported on stretchers because they were so weak from malnourishment. Several videos filmed in southern suburbs also show extremely skinny children, visibly suffering from malnourishment.

Comments

Reply to comment | The FRANCE 24 Observers

Hmm is anyone else having problems with the pictures on this blog loading?
I'm trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if it's the blog.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Reply to comment | The FRANCE 24 Observers

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