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Atlanta Resident Honored in Los Angeles

Atlanta Resident Honored in Los Angeles

Author Amir Marakby by

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Image Credit: CAIR-LA strives to be an impartial entity that aims to highlight stories, views and contributions of Muslims in Atlanta. This article highlights the successes and struggles of an Atlanta Resident. For information and details on the Atlanta Muslim community, please subscribe to "The Atlanta Muslim Weekly".

By Amir Marakby

Sitting in his son's home at a quiet and serene Metro-Atlanta neighborhood, Dr. Mamoun Jandali said he and his wife were badly beaten in late July by Syrian regime loyalists that they had to undergo medical treatment for almost two months following the incident in Syria's western city of Homs.

Fighting tears as he looked over pictures taken moments after the attack, showing his 66-year-old wife bleeding, the 72-year old surgeon said, 'The most difficult thing was watching two men hitting and kicking my wife while my hands were handcuffed. I could do nothing!'

'Freedom is never free,' told me his 38-year old son, Malek, as he watched his father sobbing. 'We have to pay the price. … And we will demand it and we will gain it hopefully very soon,' he added.

Malek Jandali [Facebook page, Wikipedia], a well-established Atlanta-based musician, said the violent attack involving his parents happened a few days after he played a song at an anti-Syrian government and pro-democracy rally only steps away from the White House.

'I composed the song from my heart to the heart of the Syrian people and everybody who is longing for freedom, liberty and human rights,' Malek said.

While the Syrian government has not addressed the Jandalis' claims about the incident, it has recently blamed armed gangs for attacks on civilians.

But the incident and the song, entitled 'Ana Watani' – Arabic for 'I am my homeland' –, have become a rallying cry for the Syrian opposition.

On November 5th, Malek Jandali was presented with this year's 'Freedom in Expression' award for composing the song that supports democratic movements around the world.

The award, which is given by the Council on American-Islamic Relations Greater Los Angeles Area (CAIR-LA), has recognized his work and dedication in advocating freedom through his music.

'Coming from one of the biggest Muslim organizations in the U.S., it is truly an honor and I am tremendously moved,' Mr. Jandali told this week.

'I was just wondering where the Syrian ambassador [to the U.S.] was when a fellow national was being recognized like that!' he added.

Mr. Jandali said he is putting the final touches of an upcoming album entitled "Emessa," the Roman name for Homs – one of the most devastated Syrian cities due to the continuing violence. He said the new album has been inspired by the Arab uprising.

One of the works in the upcoming album is called 'Freedom Symphony,' which he dedicated to an anti-government rally chanter named Ibrahim Kahoush. Opposition sources claim he was killed after chanting his famous "Go Away Bashar" song in various demonstrations - However, the government maintains that 'terrorist armed gangs' are behind civilian killings.

Despite the violence, Mr. Jandali's parents were able to flee Syria to be united with their son in Atlanta.

"I mean a five-minute song has threatened this regime," Malek exclaimed. "You can't even touch music! You can't even see music! And a five-minute song that was performed in the land of the free here caused the beating of my dad who is a surgeon who treated many army personnel throughout the last 30 years. My mom taught many generations of the Baath party generals. But those people for some reason forgot their humanity!" he added.

Looking back, Dr. Jandali says he does not regret that his son composed and played the controversial song. He said he is very proud of his son and he hopes the best for Syria, though he does not plan to go back anytime soon.

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