Thousands of Syrians take to streets in protest


DARAA – Thousands of Syrians marched in the southern town of Daraa on Monday after the funeral of a protester killed in the previous day’s demonstration, a resident said. The resident said “a mass of demonstrators started to march from the cemetery towards Al-Omari mosque after the burial” of Raed Akrad, who was killed by security forces Sunday when they opened fire to disperse a protest.
“Just God, Syria and Freedom,” and “Revolution, revolution” chanted the demonstrators, according to the resident who said security forces were stationed at the entrance of the tense town.
The protesters, who have been inspired by regime-changing revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, are demanding “freedom” and an end to 48 years of emergency laws in Syria.
“There was a massive deployment of security forces to block protests but thousands gathered anyway,” a witness told AFP adding they used tear gas to break up the crowd and “arrested several people” on the fourth day of unrest.
Since Friday, security forces have killed five people during crackdowns on protests in Daraa, according to an AFP tally based on human rights organisations and activists. The Syrian Army deployed on Monday at the entrances to the city of Daraa as officials tried to calm passions following the protests for freedom, residents said. Mourners chanted slogans demanding political freedom and an end to corruption.
“God, Syria, freedom. The people want the overthrow of corruption,” they chanted.
The slogan is a play on the words “the people want the overthrow of the regime,” the rallying cry of the revolutions that overthrew the entrenched leaders of Tunisia and Egypt and spread across the Arab world.