February 17 . 2011 .
As was expected, without an appointed time, far from the big slogans and unaffected by the despair and the words of the desperate that we are “different” – with all the negativities of frustration and the loss of confidence for the individual and society this “difference” bears – Syrians took to the streets to declare, “We refuse to be humiliated and disgraced.”
This is what occurred this afternoon, in one of the most crowded neighborhoods of Damascus, al-Hariqa, near the al-Hamidiya market and in the narrow streets leading to it – nearly 1500 people gathered to protest the beating of a young man by members of the traffic police following an altercation.
The demonstrators called out, “The Syrian people will not be humiliated,” and demanded the immediate release of the young man with “Let him go! Let him go!” and “There is no god but God.” They chanted in the faces of the Security Police, who were trying to prevent the demonstrators from taking pictures, “Shame, shame! Why, why!” and chanted “Thief! Thief!” in the face of the Minister of the Interior, who was present to contain the situation.
The demonstration continued almost three hours, during which time storefronts were blocked, people left their balconies and roofs, and youths climbed on cars that were stopped on the sides of the road to take part in the chanting. The demonstrators demanded that the policemen who attacked the young man be held accountable, and this is what the Minister of Interior – who was certainly as shocked as everyone by the unexpected awakening of the Syrian street – agreed to; he tried to contain the anger by promising to hold the aggressors accountable and investigating the matter.
This happened without the advocates for “days of rage,” without opposition movements, loyalists or television screens. It happened as it usually does, with the awakening of a people who refuse to continue years of humiliation, and it proves that a sense of dignity and freedom can be suppressed, but it can never be taken away. We salute the Syrian people for their suffering and resistance to the silencing of their voices and the edge of the winds of change, blowing across the region