18 Feb 2012

When Revolution Reaches Your Neighbourhood

Welcome to Mazzeh, my Damascus neighbourhood during my teenage and early adulthood years. It is unbelievable to watch massive demos taking place in those streets I know. I used to walk a lot instead of ride taxis or buses. So I often went through those areas.

Mazzeh is a middle class to upper middle class neighbourhood. In the eighties it used to be called the New Damascus, Dimashq al Jadidah, because it was a new neighbourhood joining Damascus after it had been considered an outskirt before.  

In this video on Saturday, mourners gathered massively under the snow in a funeral for those how had been killed the day before. It is pretty powerful.

In the revolution Mazzeh's importance for Damascus stems from several factors. 

First, it is where many embassies are based. They used to all be based in Malki or Abu Roumaneh, but in recent years many moved to the newer and trendy Mazzeh. In fact when I used to live there it was not that trendy, didn't have the cafes, restaurants and shops it now does. 

Second, it is close to one of Damascus' main and biggest squares: the Omayad Square, where pro-Assad rallies have taken place and where State TV and Radio has its headquarters, the Syrian regime's own Maspero (Maspero is the name of the Egyptian State TV headquarters and has been a very important clashing point both politically and in protests)

Third, it is relatively close to the presidential palace, the People's Palace, a palace named after the people but never accessible to the people of course. It is actually just up the hill from Omayad Square but it goes through a non-inhabited road all the way to the top, rising above the city.

Fourth, many nearby rebelling neighbourhoods in the bigger Damascus are reached through Mazzeh, such as Mouadamiyeh for example.

I know that demos have been taking place regularly behind Al Razi Hospital, on the main Mazzeh highway known as Autostrad. This is actually where the Iranian Embassy is located and videos on Youtube have shown many demos there. But the streets there are narrow and the demos get dispersed quickly. Interestingly enough, not far from there are many faculties of the University of Damascus, including the Faculty of Letters and the Faculty of Medicine.

I am told that in Saturday's Mazzeh demo at Sheikh Saad many were the same people that go to the usual demos behind Al Razi Hospital, which is closer to Omayad Square and the People's Palace than Sheikh Saad.

Anyway, as usual, the security forces accompanied by their thugs, eventually show up and have no mercy. In this video you will see them, uniformed and armed, along with their thugs, shooting at the mourners !

One really wonders : if these security forces and thugs were pulled out of Damascus and it became safe to go out in demos, how many Damascenes would come out against the regime? And how many would still come out to show support to the regime, freely and willingly?

Would there be a Tahrir Square in Omayad Square? Or may be in Abbasid Square? (Abbasid Square is another big square on the other side of Damascus not far from the rebelling Qaboun, Barzeh neighbourhoods).

Sunday is another day.. where again mourners will come out to bury the dead from Saturday's crackdown. Will they be shot at again?

It is the never-ending cycle !

You might want to check out ChubbyBlog's Damascus Spoke While It Was Snowing

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