[QODLink]
Middle East
Rare protest quashed in Syria
Protesters in Damascus call for release of political prisoners in second public display of dissent in as many days.
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2011 14:31
A banner draped across a Damascus home in support of the government [Photo: Cajsa Wikstrom]

Anti-government protesters have taken to the streets of the Syrian capital Damascus for a second day running but their demonstration was quickly quashed by security forces, witnesses said.

Around 100 people, mainly relatives of political prisoners, gathered in Marjeh Square on Wednesday calling for the release of their loved ones and an end to emergency laws.

Government supporters and police armed with batons urged the demonstrators to go home, before arresting four people, witnesses told the Reuters news agency.

On Tuesday some 40 to 50 people gathered after midday prayers in the Al Hamidiya area near the city's Umayyad Mosque in a rare show of dissent against Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Al-Assad, who succeeded his father as president in 2000, has said there is no chance of unrest elsewhere in the region spreading to Syria. The country has been ruled by al-Assad's Baath Party since 1963.

A YouTube video purportedly showing Tuesday's protest showed dozens of people clapping and chanting "God, Syria, freedom -- that's enough", and "Peaceful, peaceful", a chant heard elsewhere in weeks of protests that have swept through the Arab world.

A voice in the background says: "The date is (March) 15 ... This is the first obvious uprising against the Syrian regime ... Alawite or Sunni, all kinds of Syrians, we want to bring down the regime".

The protest was quickly broken up by government supporters, the AP news agency reported.

A Facebook page in favour of a "Syrian revolution" has amassed about 42,000 fans, promoting demonstrations "in all Syrian cities".

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Thousands of Houthi supporters have called for the fall of Yemen's government. But what do the Houthis really want?
New ration reductions and movement restrictions have refugees from Myanmar anxious about their future in Thailand.
US lawyers say poor translations of election materials disenfranchise Native voters.
US drones in Pakistan have killed thousands since 2004. How have leaders defended or decried these deadly planes?
Residents count the cost of violence after black American teenager shot dead by white Missouri police officer.
join our mailing list