Tens of thousands of Syrians gathered in the main square of the city of Homs today. The protest comes as a response to the killing of more than 25 activists in the city on Sunday. The protests in Homs are part of a wider series of demonstrations around the country that started in January and were originally inspired by Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian who set himself on fire to protest his own government and who is widely credited with triggering the wave of pro-democracy protests that have spread through the Middle East and North Africa in recent months. Other protests have taken place in the Syrian cities of Damascus and Ain al-Arab. Syria’s current leader, Bashar al-Assad, has ruled the country for a decade and is accused of numerous human rights violations. Much of the protesters’ discontent is against the government’s use of Emergency Laws, which, since being established in 1962, have eliminated many of the basic rights of Syrian citizens. Assad has promised to enact political reforms but many doubt he will do so.
Al Jazeera reports that tents are being setup in the main square of Homs and protesters are calling the area “Tahrir Square”, a symbolic reference to the square in Cairo that became the focal point of the national pro-democracy protests that led to the ousting of Hosni Mubarak in February. The tents are a clear sign that the protester do not intent to end their demonstrations soon, and are preparing for the long haul. However, since the first democratic revolutions in the region more than two months ago, both the protest organizers and the Syrian government have had time to plan and learn from previous demonstrations — most notably those in Tunisia and Egypt. Thus, Syria represents a second generation of democratic revolution in the Middle East, one in which both sides are better organized and likely more determined.
Photo credit: Milano.