on Tuesday the Midan coordination committee called for mass demonstrations in the abu habel district of Midan in Central Damascus after Asr prayers. it was planned in anticipation of a visit by the Arab league observers specifically in Midan. it is quite rare for a coordination committee to announce a date for a demonstration as most protests start spontaneously without a planning. of course this yields a disadvantage as the authorities can get air of this ,gather and disrupt the protests. i took part in these protests and these are my observations: i arrived an hour early as to find a safe place to protest. i quickly noticed that Midan in general is covered in anti-regime graffiti ( which the regime subsequently badly covered). every few meters you would find slogans like ” get out Bashar” or more insults to Bashar. The Abu Habel district was cordoned off by regime thugs, yet the Abu Habel district is riddled with alleys and paths to the main gathering points. so it would be easy for someone to get in discretely but extremely difficult to get in large numbers. Upon entering the district i saw a crowd of regime supporters ( near the buses that were used to transport them ). Addounia TV was also holding interviews, with some participants falsely stating they were residents of Midan. After more inspection i counted more than 200 armed thugs accompanying the pro-regime crowd. the regime had done its homework and had prepared to fool the observers with this fake stage of support. at the other end of the district the anti-regime demonstrators started gathering. Those who attended were far fewer than i anticipated ( Midan can peak 25,000 demonstrators). yet those who attended were around 1000-2000. a far call from a massive demonstrations the committee called for. the regime thugs decided to flex their muscles and attempted to disrupt the demonstration before it stared. the anti-regime crowd decided to meld into the pro-regime crowd as to hide. what was usually an opposition strong hold has become a stage for a pro-regime crowd.When the Asr prayers were announced, the anti-regime crowd entered the Daqaq Mosque. The pro-regime crowd started chanting their generic chants, while the the anti-regime crowd waited for more people to arrive. directly after prayers the protests started, but we were surrounded from 2 out of 3 sides. we managed to taunt the regime thugs a bit, before moving to one of the alleys by the Daqaq mosque. i managed to escape then, those who didn’t returned to the mosque where they were surrounded for about 2 hours, before the regime thugs pulled out. luckily no one was harmed. one thing that surprised me was the relatively mass participation by women ( about 40% of the crowd). in fact one of the worshipers started mumbling about the women that weren’t wearing hijabs inside the mosque, i told him better them inside the mosque than the shabeeha. sadly the observers never showed up until late in the evening where both crowds (pro and anti) had long ago dispersed. the observers went to pray at the Daqaq mosue and listened to the testimonies of some opposition activists for a short while before leaving. as i was leaving i was amused to realize that one of the regime thugs accidentally used tear gas on the pro-regime demonstrators that were bussed in(غبأكم ينصرنا ). i would like to state that if it weren’t for the numerous checkpoints and regime thugs the demonstration would’ve certainly been better.
the regime is trying to manipulate the observers the same way they manipulated Robert Fisk.
some guy in damascus
Addounia tv with pro-regime crowd and thugs
the demonstration held in the alley neighboring the mosque