Syria’s Revolt: How Graffiti Stirred an Uprising
By Rania Abouzeid Tuesday, Mar. 22, 2011
Hussein Malla / AP
A Syrian soldier patrols a court building that was set on fire by antigovernment protesters in Dara’a, Syria, on March 21, 2011
The words have been repeated from Tunisia to Egypt, from Yemen to Bahrain. “The people want the regime to fall” — the mantra of revolution. And so, last week, after 15 kids wrote those words on a wall in the agricultural town of Dara’a in southern Syria, the local governor decided to come down hard. The young people — all under 17 — were thrown in jail. The punishment stunned the town, and suddenly, Syria — so confidently authoritarian — got its first strong taste of rebellion in the Arab Spring.
Syria remains a closed and walled-off nation. But descriptions of the uprising in Dara’a are dramatic. The alleged details include dozens of young men pelting a poster — in broad daylight — of a smiling President Bashar Assad; the demolition of a statue of the President’s late father and predecessor Hafiz Assad; the burning of official buildings, including the ruling Baath Party’s headquarters and the governor’s office. “There is no fear, there is no fear, after today there is no fear!” hundreds of men chanted in shaky mobile-phone footage allegedly from Monday. Over the weekend, provincial security forces opened fire on marchers, killing several.
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