Syrian human rights activist and writer Ali Abd Allah was arrested overnight at his home near Damascus, rights organisations said on Monday.

 

"Ali Abd Allah was probably arrested because he had read a message written by Ali Sadr al-Din al-Bayanuni, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, during a 7 May Atassi political dissident forum about reforms in Syria," said the Syrian Organisation for the Defence of Human Rights (SODH).

 

The Syrian government has banned most dissident political forums, and has prohibited opposition groups,including the Muslim Brotherhood, from operating.

 

However, intellectuals, activists and human rights leaders regularly attend discussion meetings at the home of Suhair al-Attasi, which has become known as the Attasi salon.

 

Abd Allah has published opinion articles, in which he criticized the Syrian government for its inability to change.

 

Ending political detentions

 

The SODH called on President Bashar al-Assad to intervene personally to free the Syrian activist and put a "definitive end" to political detentions.

 

The Atassi salon issued a statement denouncing "repression by security services and blind politics that reject dialogue," and urged Syrian and global human rights groups to campaign for Abd Allah's release.

 

Al-Assad has promised some reform in Syria; but critics say the government's actions demonstrate otherwise, citing two more recent arrests of a Syrian engineer, who returned to Damascus after 25 years of exile in Britain, and a French national of Syrian origin.