Home > Syrian uprising > Donkey insult sparked 17 Feb Damascus demo

Donkey insult sparked 17 Feb Damascus demo

London-based Pan-Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi published this piece on Friday 18th Feb explaining the background to the remarkable demonstration that took place in the heart of Damascus’ Harika business district the previous day.

According to eyewitnesses interviewed by the paper’s reporter Yusif Sarhan, the story began on Thursday 17 February when a policeman, trying to stop a young man entering the busy Hamidiya market in his car,  shouted “move, you donkey!”

The young man was understandably offended. He got out of his car and returned the insult to the policeman, who in turn, set about beating him with a truncheon. Two more policemen joined in the beating until the man’s screams caused citizens to rally to his defence.

The police managed to withdraw, pulling the victim to the entrance of a nearby building where they carried on beating him.  By this stage however, the crowd has swelled to an estimated 4,000 and they furiously began demanding the man’s release.

In order to quell the tide of anger, the local police chief turned up at the scene and tried to disperse the crowd but to no avail. To stop the influx of people into the area, all entrances to the Harika district had been cut off by security forces.

In an attempt to change the nature of the demonstration, a number of undercover mukhabarat agents infiltrated the crowd and chanted “with our spirits and our blood, we sacrifice ourselves for you O’ Bashar.” The crowd however did not respond. Instead, they shouted “thieves! thieves!” and “Syrians will never be humiliated.”

The situation escalated dangerously which prompted Minister of the Interior Major General Sa’id Samur and six brigadier generals and the prosecutor general to show up. The minister met with the victim and promised the crowd that the perpetrators will be punished. The victim then urged the crowd to disperse, which they duly did. The whole incident lasted about four hours.

The paper’s reporter later met with the residents and businessmen of the local area. According to the paper:

It was clear that a state of anger still hangs over the place. One young man said: “The situation is no longer bearable. Had they used violence and humiliation against us [to disperse the crowd] who knows what would have happened.”  Another added: “They want to continue treating us like oxen or sheep, but for how long?” A third man said: “This is not just the behavior of a traffic policeman. It is the conduct of an entire regime that views the citizen as a slave who does not have the right to raise his voice in defense of his dignity.”

Categories: Syrian uprising
  1. Syrian
    February 21, 2011 at 5:06 am

    The information in this article conflicts with the information that has been published in every other article regarding this incident. The author seemed to have pulled information out of the air and planted it in his own fairy tale. Four-thousand people? Four hours? Planted mukhabarat agents? Every other source cites the number of demonstrators at 1,500 maximum, and the amount of time they stayed at 3 hours or less. And pray tell, how would anyone know that the people chanting slogans for the president are mukhabarat agents? Are they holding big signs that say “WE ARE MUKHABARAT!”? It is a well-established fact that Syrians are proud of their president. It seems like anyone who supports the government is a mukhabarat agent. It’s amazing that in a country of 22,000,000 people, 22,000,000 of them are mukhabarat agents. Where is the corroborating evidence to support any of these claims? Or do you think that little of your readers, and believe that they are stupid enough to believe just about any tripe you feed to them?

    It is clear that those Syrians living outside of their country for decades, and in most cases, were not even born in Syria or have never set foot inside the country, are out of touch with the reality on the ground. When organizers of a protest are all living outside of Syria and need to recruit thousands of Europeans, North Americans, Israelis, and Lebanese to make their Facebook group, and therefore their cause, seem bigger, it has become obvious that they do not speak on behalf of the Syrian people, but rather on behalf of themselves and their selfish ideals on life inside a country they don’t live in.

    Here’s a tip you should have learned in elementary school: Support begins at home. And indeed, these protest organizers of protests that did not materialize on Feb. 4 and 5 did receive their support from, as their homes are in Europe and North America. If you want to start a revolt inside SYRIA, then you are going to need the support of the SYRIAN people living inside the country, not the support of brain-dead Europeans and Americans who can’t locate their own countries on a map, let alone Syria. Then, you are going to have to convince all the Assad supporters that their president is no good, which is quite an impossible feat unless you plan on lying. In case you think that the “Revolution Against Syria” Facebook page, the largest opposition page on Facebook, somehow represents the Syrian people, then you are going to have to look again and see all the Facebook groups that support the president. In many cases, those groups have tens of thousands of people each, and in one case, over 90,000. Are we supposed to believe that the largest opposition group, whose members number 22,000 non-Syrians, is supposed to represent my people? Go report on some actual news instead of sensationalizing pin-drop incidents of no significance.

  2. February 21, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Thank you for your comment. In general I would advise to keep comments short and sweet as this will encourage a more lively debate.

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