A Domino Too Far?
February 7, 2011
Zero attendance during the day of rage in Syria last Friday despite more than 16,000 who subscribed to the Facebook group.
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Syrians are, generally speaking, far more fearful of their government than their Egyptian counterparts, and they have reason to be: they still live under an emergency law, enacted in 1963 and justified by Syria’s ongoing state of war with Israel, that suspends their constitutional rights. The Muslim Brotherhood, illegal but essentially tolerated in Egypt, has in Syria been effectively hounded out of existence. In Syria, membership in the brotherhood has, since 1980, been a capital offense.
I still remember how astonished I was when, visiting Egypt for the first time in the spring of 2005, I was taken to a meeting of Kefaya, a loose coalition of political groups opposing Hosni Mubarak’s presidency. The meeting, held in a large hall in the journalist’s union building in central Cairo, had attracted hundreds from across the political spectrum. I’d been living in Syria for nearly a year at that point, and I was already habituated enough to Syrian norms to be awestruck at the sight of these Egyptian activists, arguing and networking with one another in the lobby, swapping business cards and handing out pamphlets. Such a meeting would have been literally unimaginable in Syria, where all dissent is ruthlessly, and immediately, crushed.
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Source: Damascus, A Domino Too Far?
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