Is Syria the next Arab domino to go? Syrian activists have been using Facebook to call for a 'day of rage' against the Assad regime on Saturday, February 5.
In the past week, Syrian activists have been using Facebook to call for mass protests in Syria on Saturday, February 5, 2011, dubbing it the "Day of Rage." In Facebook pages created specifically for this purpose, members have called on the Syrian public to take to the streets on that date and stage peaceful demonstrations and rallies in all parts of the country, as well as in front of Syrian embassies in Arab and European capitals, in protest of the oppressive Syrian regime. These Facebook pages also feature images and videos slamming Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and supporting protest against his rule.
The organizers of the Syrian protests have expressed support for the demonstrators in Tunisia and Egypt, and have adopted their methods: opening special Facebook pages on which information is posted regarding the place and time of the planned protests, and creating a special profile picture, associated with the protests, to be used by all Facebook members sympathizing with the cause. However, it seems that the scope of their activity is limited compared to that of the Tunisian and Egyptian activists. So far, the number of people who have registered as members on these Facebook pages is relatively small, and some of the members reside outside the country.
Among those promoting the "Day of Rage" protests is the Independent Islamic Bloc – part of the "Damascus Declaration" opposition movement – which has called upon Syrians to attend a "sweeping protest and mass rally" in front of the Parliament house in Damascus on February 5. In its announcement, the organization praised the protests in Tunisia and Egypt and warned the Syrian regime against continuing its oppression, corruption and political arrests. Websites have also published a message by "the Popular Committees in Aleppo Province" announcing a February 5 protest rally in the center of Aleppo, the second largest city in Syria.
The organizers of the planned demonstrations in Damascus and Aleppo have listed their demands: an improvement in living standards, respect for human rights, freedom of speech for all Syrian citizens, and greater influence for Syrian youth. They requested that the protesters come equipped with nothing more than Syrian flags and signs expressing their demands.
Syria is on the alert for the possible spread of protests to its territory. On January 29, 2011, the Syrian authorities prevented the holding of a demonstration in solidarity with the Egyptian protesters in front of the Egyptian embassy in Damascus, fearing a conflagration. It was also reported that Syrian security chief 'Ali Mamlouk has met with province governors and police commanders in order to prepare for possible protests in the country.
There are conflicting reports regarding the accessibility of Facebook, which has played a crucial role in mobilizing the public for the current wave of protests in the Arab world. According to a January 25, 2011 report on Alarabiya.net, the Syrian authorities have restricted access to Facebook in a bid to keep the protests from spreading to Syria, but some users are managing to access the site through proxies.  The Syrian news agency SANA has denied this, saying that access to the Internet is unrestricted throughout the country.
Read the whole thing. The problem is that Assad is liable to just gas them all.
Labels: Bashar al-Assad, Facebook, Politics, Syrian regime change, World Politics
posted by Carl in Jerusalem @ 4:32 AM