Vancouver woman missing in Syria
May 7, 2007 6:49 AM   Subscribe

Vancouver woman missing in Syria. Nicole Vienneau has gone missing while travelling in Syria. Her brother, Matthew, has started a blog in hopes of gathering information about what's happened to her. Information has already started coming in from other travellers about her last known whereabouts. via Matthew's interview on CBC radio this morning.
posted by GuyZero (67 comments total)

 
I saw a woman while I was driving in to work this morning. I don't know if she was from Vancouver. Plus I wasn't in Syria. But maybe this information will be useful in some small way.
posted by DU at 6:55 AM on May 7, 2007


MissingFilter?
posted by CynicalKnight at 6:58 AM on May 7, 2007


DU...still having a bad day?

Can we do something to help?
posted by HuronBob at 7:02 AM on May 7, 2007


No and neither am I still beating my wife. Because she's missing in Syria!
posted by DU at 7:16 AM on May 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


DU: LOL.

Sorry, It's a tradgedy whenever anyone goes missing, but it happens to people all the time, unfortunetly.
posted by delmoi at 7:20 AM on May 7, 2007


Actually it looks like he started the blog long ago, and it was apperantly about playing Magic card games. He just put up one post about his sister.
posted by delmoi at 7:23 AM on May 7, 2007


We should probably invade Iran.
posted by ND¢ at 7:24 AM on May 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Actually it looks like he started the blog long ago, and it was apperantly about playing Magic card games. He just put up one post about his sister.

She was carrying his Lord of the Pit card when she went missing.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:24 AM on May 7, 2007


I'm not sure if I'd rather hear my sister say "Hey I'm going to go to Syria all by myself" or "hey I'm going to drink a bottle of Robitussin and go motorcycle riding."
posted by wigu at 7:32 AM on May 7, 2007


Jesus Christ, is that the best you people can do? There's a story here, about how online communities have already provided extraordinary amounts of information in the search. And, you know, she's a real person who may have met an ugly fate. Show some respect. Oy.
posted by jokeefe at 7:33 AM on May 7, 2007 [10 favorites]


Hmm, apparently he didn't even know where in the middle east she was, it could have been Syria, Lebanon, or even Turkey. It seems pretty crazy to stay out of contact with people for such a long time while traveling.

It's like that climber who had to saw off his own arm after getting it stuck under a rock. If he'd had a satalite (or maybe even cellular) phone he would have been fine, or if he'd simply told people what he'd be doing and where, he'd also be fine.
posted by delmoi at 7:42 AM on May 7, 2007


Sorry jokeefe, you are right we need to pitch in.

OK, I did some googling around. Turns out Syria is in the MidEast. Here's a map. It has about 20 million people. If someone else can dig up a list of all their names, maybe some techie here can do a grep for this woman?
posted by DU at 7:43 AM on May 7, 2007


Vienneau told The Early Edition that Canadian Foreign Affairs officials have done what they can, but that most of the information on his sister has come from people in Canada and Syria — who read about Nicole on the internet and offered to help.

And the publicity will certainly help her book sales.

Seriously, if my sister went missing in Syria, I wouldn't waste my time blogging for "information," I'd be raising money for the ransom.
posted by three blind mice at 7:44 AM on May 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, I don't know. Having to be in constant contact is rather sad and paranoid. The very small risk you take is the price you pay for being somewhere remote enough that you can't share your experiences via your arse-archingly dull3 G enabled. podblogwikicast.

Besides, plenty of people get kidnapped and killed with mobiles, sometimes even in wifi hotspots.
posted by rhymer at 7:52 AM on May 7, 2007


.
posted by bruce at 8:04 AM on May 7, 2007


Also, as lovely as the Middle East is in the early summer, one might take a moment to read the State Department's warning about Syria (I know, she's of this strange Canadian persusasion, but if I could easily be mistaken for some diphthong-challenged American, I would probably pay attention to countries it considers dangerous) and realize, hey, kidnapping? Totally a possibility.

I'm not saying she deserves it, I'm just saying, uh, it's fucking Syria.
posted by mckenney at 8:06 AM on May 7, 2007


Oh, I don't know. Having to be in constant contact is rather sad and paranoid.

I suppose, but she could have had problems like running out of gas or getting lost in the desert. People forget that the world really is a dangerous place, you know, and basic precautions can mitigate most of the risks.
posted by delmoi at 8:06 AM on May 7, 2007


I'm not saying she deserves it, I'm just saying, uh, it's fucking Syria.

Oh come on, the state department has travel warnings for all kinds of places, including the Israel, the Philipines, Columbia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Kenya. That dosn't mean the places are super-dangerious.
posted by delmoi at 8:14 AM on May 7, 2007


People forget that the world really is a dangerous place, you know, and basic precautions can mitigate most of the risks.

delmoi's right. Filing a flight plan, leaving a note as to your climbing route, or just letting someone know where you are headed after you leave basecamp doesn't take any of the fun or adventure out of life and can be great insurance in case something goes wrong.
posted by three blind mice at 8:16 AM on May 7, 2007


I hitch-hiked solo through Syria in the mid 1980s, at the height of the Reagan foreign policy, when Libya had just been bombed. Never have I met a more gracious and hospitable group of people in my life. If something bad has happened to this woman, then I suspect it reflects an encounter with a singular bad person, the sort of random awful event many women in the United States and elsewhere have also encountered. I know Syria is an imminent danger to the US as a trainee member of the axis of evil and all that. That doesn't mean it is unsafe to travel in, especially for a non-American.

And DU, I actually believe you did have to look up where Syria was because you give every sign of being a vacuous prick.
posted by Rumple at 8:21 AM on May 7, 2007 [5 favorites]


Well, as a woman who's traveled alone a lot, it's not always that easy or feasible to keep people aware of your day to day goings on. Especially when they are 6,000 miles away, sitting at home & totally focused on playing magic card games. Doing that kind of traveling, lot of times you are concentrated on playing things by ear. Plus the internet is not always easily accessible, and the phone is expensive.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:25 AM on May 7, 2007


hey, kidnapping? Totally a possibility.

In the radio interview, the brother described kidnapping as "a best-case scenario". Because then someone will call up, say she's alive and demand ransom. It's a tough day when a kidnapping is described as the "best case".

Another "positive" scenario he described was that she's lost in the Syrian jail system. It's not so hard to get arrested in Syria as a Canadian woman and under normal circumstances the Syrians are polite enough to let us know when they arrest a Canadian citizen (before torturing her). Tourists tend to take a lot of photos, something the Syrian authorities are apparently not so find of.

I thought it was pretty amazing how much info he had obtained in such a short amount of time. A traveller identified which hotel she stayed at last. Someone else found her things at the hotel and then looked at what clothes were present in her luggage so they could identify which shirt she was wearing when she disappeared (she apparently only had 2 or 3 outfits). It may not be much, but for a family that probably hasn't slept much in a few days it's probably a big deal to get even this much help.
posted by GuyZero at 8:25 AM on May 7, 2007


Matthew Vienneau either has to employ a private detective or fly to Syria himself.
Bad things can happen anywhere of course.
Thank shiva we have no mouthy jaded cynics here.
>30 days now. Hmmm.
posted by peacay at 8:33 AM on May 7, 2007


"vacuous" might better be saved for a person whose first instinct after a sibling kidnapping is to blog

Foreign Affairs typically doesn't jump into action for each and every person that goes missing overseas, but they were notified first. And the Syrian police, while also in the loop, apparently have other priorities as well.

So it's not like his LiveJournal entry is the entire effort, but so far it's been the most productive.
posted by GuyZero at 8:35 AM on May 7, 2007


I agree with DU. The "newsworthiness" of this story boggles my mind.

Then again, there's something we love about our white women imperiled by dark-skinned men.
posted by mkultra at 8:35 AM on May 7, 2007


She had a visa which expired on April 7, 2007. If she was caught without one she could be in big trouble, not to say that she would be tortured because of it. well I honestly don't know but that's not the impression I get.

Hama is the most conservative city in Syria, home of the Muslim Brotherhood, and to be honest not the friendliest town to visit if you are a foreigner. I hate to say bad things because in general Syria is a great country. Things could happen though, especially if she was out in the countryside and some ultra-conservative muslims didn't like seeing her hair or something. This still seems fairly unlikely to me though. In my experience, random violence there is not very prevalent. It's just not worth the risk of being caught. But at the same time, accidents do happen.

Let's just get an accurate picture painted of Syria first. I agree more or less with Rumple, with a few exceptions. The military there are extremely powerful and can do whatever they want more or less. Detain you, interview you, imprison you. If she gave them motivation, if she did something to get their attention and then was overly confrontational or indigant about her rights, it could rub them the wrong way. They are under no obligation to do anything, so she could be in their custody. The wouldn't just arrest her for no reason however, and taking pictures, while it could cause the military to question her briefly, it's the sort of thing that would take an hour or two to sort out, not a month.

I hope she's fine, I hope it turns out she just forgot to contact people for a while. I know in my travelling experience, not talking to back home for one month was not normal, but also not totally unusual.
posted by ryanfou at 8:52 AM on May 7, 2007


there's something we love about our white women imperiled by dark-skinned men

It may hove something more to do with Syria's torture of Maher Arar (I got Syria and Iran confused in my allusion to Zahra Kazemi's death in Iran) which makes any story involving a Canadian in Syria somewhat higher profile than it probably deserves to be on its own merits.
posted by GuyZero at 9:11 AM on May 7, 2007


I may well be a prick, but I think "vacuous" might better be saved for a person whose first instinct after a sibling kidnapping is to blog for clues.

How about "desperate", which applies more closely to both situations in question.
posted by hermitosis at 9:12 AM on May 7, 2007


just how dark skinned are syrian's anyways, mkultra? since you seem to know so much...
posted by ryanfou at 9:20 AM on May 7, 2007


You're missing the point. It's not meant literally.
posted by mkultra at 9:27 AM on May 7, 2007


Reinhard Kirchner is also missing. Maybe someone will start a blog about him too.
posted by drstein at 9:27 AM on May 7, 2007


As a woman who has done a lot of solo travel in remote places, it it not as easy to constantly update people of your whereabouts as it may seem. It's a lot of work and sometimes isn't possible (although MUCH more possible than it was ten or twenty years ago). Sometimes you are playing things by ear, you are not near the internet, and phone is expensive. You are often covering a lot of ground in one day, and meanwhile your loved ones are busy 6,000 miles away sitting on the couch concentrating on playing magic games online so even when you do contact them they don't always get what you're talking about.

Unfortunately, danger can happen to a woman in any country. It happens regularly in the US & Canada, it's just that when it's happening to a woman in a foreign country people are more freaked out and more likely to blame her for being in a land with foreigners. I was almost kidnapped twice in Mexico in my 20s. I've felt safer in the Middle East than in Mexico even though I grew up a half hour from Tijuana. I've actually heard some good things about Syria, so I don't know. She may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or she may just be unable to contact her brother for some reason. I just hope she's all right.

Out of curiosity, I looked at the Canadian Travel Report site regarding safety in Syria, all they said was: "The crime rate is low. Exercise normal precautions and ensure personal belongings, passports, and other travel documents are secure. Visitors should carry identification documents at all times. There have been incidents of women being harassed. The Department publishes a booklet entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Guide to Safe and Successful Travel. Its prime objective is to inform Canadian women and encourage them to travel safely."

Now compare that to the 18 PARAGRAPH safety warning that was written for Mexico. I don't think that warning is stopping anyone from going to Cabo,though.

Anyhow, as I said I really do hope she's found safely. There but by the grace of God go I & all that...

And I really hope this doesn't turn into a LOLMUSLIMZ/URANASSHOLEDIAF post. 'Cuz really, we met our quota for the week already.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:27 AM on May 7, 2007


Man I'm more asleep today than I thought. I already posted some of that earlier this morning. MUST. HAVE. COFFEE.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:39 AM on May 7, 2007


For the people who are jumping to the conclusion that this is a kidnapping:
How are you reaching that conclusion? Have you heard of any ransom kidnappings in Syria?

The state department's travel warning didn't even mentioned kidnappings.
posted by mulligan at 9:56 AM on May 7, 2007


jokeefe: And, you know, she's a real person who may have met an ugly fate. Show some respect. Oy.

DU: Sorry jokeefe, you are right we need to pitch in.

He didn't ask you to personally "pitch in," he asked you to not act like an insensitive prick.
posted by the other side at 9:56 AM on May 7, 2007


Man. Guess there has to be video of you being stoned to death in order to get some sympathy around here.
posted by notmydesk at 10:01 AM on May 7, 2007


Guess there has to be video of you being stoned to death in order to get some sympathy around here.

People go "missing" all the time. There's even no evidence of foul play. For all you know, she could be sitting on a beach somewhere.

It's not that we need more sympathy, it's that we need less hysteria.
posted by mkultra at 10:29 AM on May 7, 2007


I'm not saying she deserves it, I'm just saying, uh, it's fucking Syria.

There has been enough written to debunk this statement already, but just in case... Syria is relatively speaking a very safe country. A woman travelling alone is much more likely to be raped and murdered in any major American or European city then you are anywhere in Syria. Syria is a police state, and while it's technically possible to be caught up in the machinations of the state, the more Western you are the less likely this is to happen.

Of course, like anywhere, she is probably most at risk of being caught up in a crime by bandits, a local criminal, etc. Saying "it's fucking Syria" only shows your own fucking ignorance.
posted by cell divide at 10:31 AM on May 7, 2007


cell divide, A country is dangerous merely by virtue of being very diffrent from places you understand. For example, even Atlanta's high murder rate has zero impact upon the rich people living in the north half of the city.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:58 AM on May 7, 2007


mkultra, there's no evidence of foul play except that she apparently abandoned most of her belongings. the only hysteria here is people screaming that there is nothing wrong. I see nothing but balanced concern coming from everybody else.
posted by ryanfou at 11:17 AM on May 7, 2007


the other thing which is unfortunate is that if she was in the custody of the military, the hotel where she was staying would most certainly be aware of it. If they don't know anything, that's a pretty bad sign.
posted by ryanfou at 11:19 AM on May 7, 2007


jeffburdges, right, which is why I said a woman traveling alone, emphasis on woman, traveling (not walking, or just in the area) and alone.
posted by cell divide at 11:44 AM on May 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Maybe she's been taken as some seductive Syrian's sex slave and is on her way to madness.
posted by Azaadistani at 12:01 PM on May 7, 2007


Who the hell travels to Syria? That's less 'poor decision making' and more 'unusual suicide attempt.' Being a lone woman traveling to Syria is worth even more crazy stupid points.

I mean, I still hope she comes back in one piece, but only a lunatic would think of traveling to Syria in the current political climate.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:08 PM on May 7, 2007


only a lunatic would think of traveling to Syria in the current political climate.

That is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard. Do you even know anything about Syria?
posted by dead_ at 12:13 PM on May 7, 2007


Mitrovarr said: Who the hell travels to Syria? That's less 'poor decision making' and more 'unusual suicide attempt.' Being a lone woman traveling to Syria is worth even more crazy stupid points.

Wow...rein in your xenophobic misogyny there, sparky.

First off, the Syrians are a lovely people, in a magnificent cradle of civilization and they don't hate Americans anymore than the rest of the world. (Which, granted after the Bushites is more than they *used* to hate us...but that's neither here nor there.)

And women are allowed to travel anywhere than men can travel. Last time I checked my heavily used, much stamped passport it didn't say "Estrogen restrictions; may only go to shopping destinations."

I'd feel safer in downtown Damascus than I do in downtown Dallas...because ya know, I *would* be safer.
posted by dejah420 at 12:28 PM on May 7, 2007


That is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard. Do you even know anything about Syria?

Let's see:

1. It's in the middle east, a dangerous region that is nearly always in some sort of conflict.
2. The regime is hostile, has a poor human rights record, and is known to torture dissidents.
3. The population has a large component that is extremely hostile to the US. Canadians are a little better off, but with all the Americans who fake being Canadian, probably not a lot.
4. The population is extremely poor, making things like robbery and kidnapping more likely.
5. The predominant culture is extremely repressive to women.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:37 PM on May 7, 2007


And women are allowed to travel anywhere than men can travel. Last time I checked my heavily used, much stamped passport it didn't say "Estrogen restrictions; may only go to shopping destinations."

You misunderstood. I'm saying it's stupid because she went to a place that is extremely misogynistic, where many people there will likely take her presence there, alone, as an insult (or, even worse, as an opportunity.)

The middle eastern cultures invented the 'rape you and then throw you in jail for having sex' routine. Granted, that's more common in Saudi Arabia, and they wouldn't pull that crap on a westerner for political reasons, but it does occur.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:45 PM on May 7, 2007


mitrovarr, mostly wrong.

1. It's a police state, there is a high degree of order. They have a secular government. Would you say the same risks apply to travelling in Israel? how many millions visit there every year?

2. the regime is hostile to whom? what evidence is there that this woman is a dissident. they don't torture people randomly.

3. this is somewhat true, but in fact has very little to do with citizens from one country or another. Also, it's a bit arrogant to think she would be assumed to be American, or Canadian, and not french, german, dutch, any other western country, where syrians have fewer prejudices against.

4. the population is generally very poor, the cost of living is quite low, robbery and kidnapping statistics are extremely low (see definition of police state). One of the factors causing crimes like this is wealth disparity, which there isn't a whole lot of in syria. the people who need to protect themselves can afford to do so. police and intelligence agents spread throughout the country help this a lot.

5. what evidence do you have that the culture is "extremely oppressive to women"? the moon is made of green cheese too.
posted by ryanfou at 12:55 PM on May 7, 2007


Now compare that to the 18 PARAGRAPH safety warning that was written for Mexico. I don't think that warning is stopping anyone from going to Cabo,though.

I have a friend who got "arrested" in Mexico and forced to pay a bribe after someone on the street offered him cocaine.

1. It's in the middle east, a dangerous region that is nearly always in some sort of conflict.

The middle east is not one big country, you know.

2. The regime is hostile, has a poor human rights record, and is known to torture dissidents.

Hostile to whom?

The middle eastern cultures invented the 'rape you and then throw you in jail for having sex' routine. Granted, that's more common in Saudi Arabia, and they wouldn't pull that crap on a westerner for political reasons, but it does occur.

Culture in general was invented in the middle east. It's not like other places have not been repressive towards women, and Syria is one of the most 'westernized' countries in the region.
posted by delmoi at 1:13 PM on May 7, 2007



Who the hell travels to Syria? That's less 'poor decision making' and more 'unusual suicide attempt.' Being a lone woman traveling to Syria is worth even more crazy stupid points.

I mean, I still hope she comes back in one piece, but only a lunatic would think of traveling to Syria in the current political climate.


I'm saying it's stupid because she went to a place that is extremely misogynistic, where many people there will likely take her presence there, alone, as an insult (or, even worse, as an opportunity.)

The middle eastern cultures invented the 'rape you and then throw you in jail for having sex' routine. Granted, that's more common in Saudi Arabia, and they wouldn't pull that crap on a westerner for political reasons, but it does occur.


WOW.

It just amazes me that people are okay saying bullshit like this about other countries... as long as the countries are Muslim.

Personal experience is not evidence, I realize, but it's clearly more than you have - "OMG MUSLIMS OMG" - and I can tell you that when I traveled in Syria, I felt safe all the time, as long as I was respectful and aware that I wasn't in my home culture and practiced basic safety precautions.

I not once felt unsafe because of the alleged hordes of Muslim rapists you think wander the streets. In fact, because it's a somewhat gender-segregated society, I felt, in many ways, more free and more safe than I do at home.

Feel free to imply, at this juncture, that I am a self-loathing woman and a terrorist sympathizer; in return I can only point out that you kind of suck for maligning an entire nation based on your ignorant, uninformed anxiety.

For shame.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 1:14 PM on May 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


the regime is hostile to whom? what evidence is there that this woman is a dissident. they don't torture people randomly.

Police states are well known to be experts at Due Process and never engage on witch-hunts against innocent people.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:16 PM on May 7, 2007


Feel free to imply, at this juncture, that I am a self-loathing woman and a terrorist sympathizer; in return I can only point out that you kind of suck for maligning an entire nation based on your ignorant, uninformed anxiety.

I didn't malign the entire nation, I just said it wasn't safe (and particularly not the government.) No doubt the vast majority of people in it are nice, normal people, but it only takes one who's not to kill you.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:28 PM on May 7, 2007


Wow, is it Exterminate the Brutes Day and nobody thought to tell me, or what?
posted by dhartung at 1:51 PM on May 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


I didn't malign the entire nation, I just said it wasn't safe

And you were embarrassingly incorrect.
posted by delmoi at 2:50 PM on May 7, 2007


Police states are well known to be experts at Due Process and never engage on witch-hunts against innocent people.

As a traveler, the country being a police state is much less important than their attitude towards tourists.

For example, Russia is not really a police state. But heaven help you if you don't have proper identification papers on you at all times. I got fined 1000 roubles just for overstaying my tourist visa by less than 8 hours. It's the only "democracy" I've ever traveled to where you have to actually give both your entry *and* exit dates (you don't just get a standard month or 30 day visa) and have to, theoretically, account for point of your trip.

On the other hand, China is a super-duper oppressive state that strips it citizens of virtually all political and economic freedoms. And yet I felt peachy keen while I was there. I've heard North Korea is a perfectly fine (although somewhat bleak) destination for tourists. Turkey has an overwhelmingly military influence on its government, but that doesn't stop people from flocking to its lovely beaches and historical attractions.

Point is that just because Syria is a police state does not mean it is dangerous...to foreigners.* I'm living in Egypt right now, and I know as a foreigner I'll never have to deal with the kinds of problems a normal Egyptian might.

* Of course, by foreigners I mean wanted foreigners, i.e. primarily tourists or residents from industrialized nations. Refugees are generally treated as badly or worse than native citizens, unless they have the good fortune to be given designated refugee status which means that they'll actually have human rights and refugee org workers monitoring their status on an ongoing basis.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:52 PM on May 7, 2007


I love it when the "she asked for it by being stupid" position and the "mentioning women's rights issues in non-Western cultures is xenophobic" position are mutually exclusive.
posted by transona5 at 2:54 PM on May 7, 2007


I really think guys like Mtrovverrerererere or whatever are picturing Afghanistan and just blindly assuming that every single country in a few thousand mile radius is exactly like that.
posted by mulligan at 3:35 PM on May 7, 2007


What a sad little thread. *Not* best of the web.
posted by lazymonster at 3:41 PM on May 7, 2007


transona5, I don't understand 100% what you wrote but if I am right, mentioning womens rights is one thing. But offensive generalizations about a country that is much more liberal than assumed is something else.
posted by ryanfou at 3:42 PM on May 7, 2007


I really think guys like Mtrovverrerererere or whatever are picturing Afghanistan and just blindly assuming that every single country in a few thousand mile radius is exactly like that.

It's not that, I was under the impression that Syria was actually one of the least liberal countries in the region. Maybe it's not as bad as I expect, but from reading the Wiki, it's not exactly looking good:

"Despite a constitution which guarantees gender equality there have been no changes in 2006 to the discriminatory laws which affect millions of women in both the public and private spheres. For example the penal code continues to contain a provision that allows a judge to suspend punishment for a rapist if he marries his victim and within marriage women are still treated as their husband’s chattel."

"In 2005 Freedom House rated political rights and civil liberties in Syria as “7” (1 representing the most free and 7 the least free rating) and gave it the freedom rating of “Not Free” [3]. There have been no changes in these ratings since 1972.[11]"

"A state of emergency imposed by the government has remained in effect since 1963 despite public calls by Syrian reformists for its repeal. Since then, security forces have committed human rights abuses including arbitrary arrest and detention, prolonged detention without trial, unfair trials in the security courts, and infringement on privacy rights. "

"Syria continues to use the death penalty and HRW have documented many instances of arbitrary detention, torture and disappearances in 2006."

Sounds like a great vacation spot, guys...
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:05 PM on May 7, 2007


transona5, I don't understand 100% what you wrote but if I am right, mentioning womens rights is one thing. But offensive generalizations about a country that is much more liberal than assumed is something else.

Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that I think that all the criticisms of Syria in this thread are well-informed. I just think that there's a tendency on this site to ask "what was she doing there in the first place???" about crimes against women. But when "there" is Syria, it collides with the equally strong tendency to ask "why do you hate other countries/cultures???"
posted by transona5 at 4:55 PM on May 7, 2007


Syria is one of the last places on earth you want to stand up and say "I hate the government", or even worse, the Assad family, or their minority religious sect.

However, as a Western tourist, it is a safe place to travel, provided you really are a tourist. They are two very separate issues and actually often turn out that way because of the nature of police-state regimes. Libya, even with a far more... repressive and tribal culture, and a worse human rights record, is also safe to visit. Political violence and street violence are two very different things.
posted by cell divide at 5:05 PM on May 7, 2007


If she was a hot, rich, blond 18 year old, Fox News would be all over this.
posted by Eekacat at 5:55 PM on May 7, 2007


Let's cut through the shit. Why visit Syria as a tourist?If you want to spent your life cowering in front of your television or behind the opinion pages of axe-grinding newspapers, fine. But Syria (with all of it's problems) isn't the bogey man it's made out to be. It's a great, vibrant and exciting tourist destination.

The same has to be said about Iran. Great history, food, people and place to visit.
posted by xpermanentx at 8:28 AM on May 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


Seriously, the ignorance in this thread is appalling and saddening. Please do some real reading, Mitrovarr. No, Wikipedia doesn't count.
posted by dead_ at 9:10 AM on May 8, 2007


Update: the brother has gone to Syria to help look for his sister.

Exceprt from the blog post of today:

We arrived in Damascus at 5:30 this morning and were greeted by Embassy staff. They've been taking good care of us here in Syria and it is good to meet with them face-to-face and plan the next few days. Today has been about resting up and meeting people in Damascus. Tomorrow we meet with the Governer of Hama and the local police officials. The impression we're getting is that every effort is being made to find Nicole by both the Embassy and the Syrian government and police.

We've read through Nicole's journals. There is no significant new evidence, though it does rule out various areas where she had already been that we weren't certain of. We've been concentrating on Qasr Ibn Wardan and the Dead Cities based on conversations with the Cairo Hotel

posted by cell divide at 4:18 PM on May 14, 2007


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