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June 15, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8798

Syrian Oppositionists: The Protests In America Over George Floyd’s Killing Are Proof Of Its Strong Civil Society, Spark Hope For Similar Protests Against Assad’s Crimes

June 15, 2020
Syria | Special Dispatch No. 8798

While the state media of the Syrian regime presented the George Floyd incident as proof of the racist and terrorist character of the U.S.,[1] Syrian oppositionists claimed that the protests sparked by this incident throughout the U.S. reflected the solidarity of American society and its determination to defend the rights and dignity of all its members. Oppositionists stated that Syria can only hope to one day develop a strong civil culture like the one in the U.S., and slammed the hypocrisy of the Syrian regime, which condemns the violence in the U.S. when its crimes against its own people are so much worse.


Cartoon shows Assad suffocating Syria the way the American cop suffocated George Floyd (Twitter.com/Zshikhan, June 7, 2020)

This report reviews statements by Syrian oppositionists and writers in the opposition media about the protests in the U.S.

Syrian Oppositionists: The Protests Over Floyd's Murder Reflect The Solidarity In American Society

In light of the U.S. protests over George Floyd's death, Syrian oppositionists praised America’s civil culture while contrasting it with the situation in Syria. Oppositionist Mohamad Sabra, a former member of the High Negotiations Committee (NHC), which represents the opposition in the political process, wrote on Facebook: "Some people celebrate the violent protests in the U.S. over the murder of an African American by a racist cop, seeing them as the beginning of America's demise. That is a bizarre and strange position, which can only be espoused by someone who does not know the meaning of freedom, human dignity and social solidarity in the face of [human rights] violations by the regime. While we condemn their violent nature, the protests in the U.S. clearly reflect the powerful ability of American society to defend its freedom, dignity and civil rights. They also indicate America's strength as a state and a nation. When [a citizen] can protest a racist crime committed against another citizen, to whom he may be totally unconnected, it means first of all that he has a sense of civil [responsibility] and is part of a unified society.

"If our [Arab] peoples understood this, and saw the violation of the rights of any citizen as a violation of the rights of all citizens, we would never have reached our present [state of] disgrace and weakness. If the Syrian supporters of the criminal Bashar Al-Assad had felt that the arrest of youths in Dara in 2011[2] was a violation of every Syrian's rights and dignity, Syria would not have been destroyed, half its people would not have been displaced, and a million of its best sons would not have been martyred. Only the lovers of freedom know that the denial of one man's freedom is an infringement of their own freedom, regardless of their [political] views and their relationship to the victim. What is happening in the U.S. is a lesson to our [Arab] peoples, and especially to us Syrians. The freedom of your neighbor is your freedom, and his dignity is your dignity. Defending the freedom of any citizen is defending the freedom of us all, and protests over the violation of one man’s rights defend the rights of us all."[3] 


Sabra's Facebook post

NHC member Yahya Al-'Aridi likewise came out against those who see the events in the U.S. as proof of its tyrannical regime and imminent collapse. He tweeted: "The power of law saves a country from danger, [whereas] the law of power undermines and destroys a country. Whoever drowns in the shallow waters of the U.S. unrest, and whoever confuses the ballots of tyranny with the ballots of the rule of law, is delusional and betrays his own ignorance…The U.S. may commit injustice and crimes against other countries, but its people are free and sovereignty is in their hands, not in the hands of a tyrant." [4]

Syrian Writers: The American Regime Cannot Be Compared To The Assad Regime; The Protests Against Floyd's Murder Give Us Hope That The World Will Also Come Out Against Assad's Crimes

Writers identified with the opposition likewise praised the civil conscience of American society, and slammed the hypocrisy of the Syrian regime, which condemns the violence in the U.S. while brutally oppressing its own people. Syrian author and journalist Khatib Badla wrote in his column in the London-based daily Al-Arabi Al-Jadid: "American society definitely has a discriminatory streak, and there are definitely radical right-wing organizations [in the U.S.] that are racist. But, at the same time, the widespread protests show that [American] society opposes this discrimination. Moreover, having a developed sense of civil [solidarity], Americans regard the murdered [George Floyd] as an American citizen [and believe that] nobody, inside or outside the U.S., has the right to infringe on his freedom, let alone murder him.  

"According to the most up-to-date international figures, the Syrian regime has murdered 690,000 citizens in the last nine years, the country has suffered losses estimated at $530 billion during the war waged [by the Assad regime] against its own people, and at least 40% of [Syria’s] infrastructures have been destroyed. Despite this, the Syrian regime was quick to condemn the murder of George Floyd, and Syrian television ran a headline condemning the racist discrimination in the U.S. and slamming the barbarity of the American regime in suppressing the protests [there].

"It is an act of injustice to draw any comparison between the democratic American regime and the regime of a gang that took over the country and tyrannized it with iron and fire, like Assad's gang, some of whose emergency laws state that, if someone dies while being interrogated by a security officer, that officer will not be charged with any crime. If any [Syrian] intelligence officer commits a murder like that of the American police officer [who killed George Floyd], or an even more horrific [crime], his direct commander will, [at most], be filled with fury and say: 'I swear by my honor that if you do that again, I will completely shave your head'…"[5]

Syrian writer Ibrahim Al-'Aloush, a columnist for the oppositionist Syrian weekly Enab Baladi, hoped that the George Floyd protests would encourage the world to protest the situation in Syria. He wrote: "The thugs of the Assad regime condemn the cruelty of the U.S. police towards the protesters [there]. They are puzzled by Trump's hesitant conduct, and contrast it with the conduct of Bashar Al-Assad, who faced a global alliance against him yet 'continued to stand fast' and hold on to his post despite the complete destruction of Syria. [The reaction to] the murder of George Floyd gives us hope that the world still protests oppression and that, in the future, it may join us in protesting the torture, murder and destruction in Syria. It renews our hope and the discourse against the sectarianism and hostility that permeate our country, and may [thereby] cleanse our country of the many kinds of racism: racism based on clan affiliation, dialect, religious school, and accusations of heresy. The protests [in the U.S.] have restored our hope in the victory of [Syria's] revolution of freedom and honor and revived the world's opposition to hideous discrimination, hostility and unnecessary murder..."[6]

 

[2] In February 2011, the security apparatuses of the Syrian regime arrested several teens from Dara for spray-painting anti-regime slogans. The wave of anger and protests over their arrest is considered to be the spark that ignited the Syrian uprising. Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 17, 2018.

[3] Facebook.com/mohammad.sabra.5, May 30, 2020.

[4] Twitter.com/yahya_alaridi, June 2, 2020.

[5] Al-Arabi Al-Jadid (London), June 7, 2020.

[6]  Enabbaladi.net, June 7, 2020.

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