The descriptions of the protests in Syria seem conflicting, pertaining both to the demeanor of the demonstrators, the reaction of the Syrian Government, and in particular, the steps taken by Syrian Police. Available information describes a “sit-in” demonstration in Douma, near Damascus. A sit in for democracy is the least aggressive of any of the varieties of new wave protests for demands by students in Northern Africa, and Near Eastern nations. The police we are told cut off electricity to the area, at about midnight and activists speaking anonymously say the protestors were attacked. Some 200 were arrested, then released the following morning, those allowed to go having submitted a request for release, in writing. It is unclear whether they were required to confess to some guilt. Other reports place the number released at about 70.
It was further reported that a number of Islamic prisoners at the Saysnaya jail were simultaneously early-released, to placate the rising level of protest. Under law, these men were qualified for release, but that release hadn’t come.
With the advent of the internet, and modern ‘social’ communication, students and others who had accepted various levels of repression are now seeking to be free. The world is changing at so quick a pace, regimes find difficulty keeping up. A free society is less Deist, more secular. For thousands of years, a rule of law/religion based on the will of the Creator, or an interpretation of the will of the Creator has been the standard in many ancient areas. Americans, and those in the West, familiar only with secular rule, “under God”, are often shocked and revolted by what in ancient areas is commonplace; checking of the virginity of maidens is a current example. Death by stoning, not mentioned in the Qur’an, but common until recently under Sharia, Islamic law, is another example. Lately these ancient ways have been modified and are more constrained.
Global culture extends by any definition over many thousands of years; years of trial and error. Civilizations rise and fall. We humans often don’t understand the wide range of variables that exist in governments. When governments are family run, over generations, the chaos caused by the infusion of new ideas is mightily exacerbated.
Available reports are conflicting. Unverified claims indicate that dozens of protestors at the demonstration in Douma were killed by Syrian Police. These claims are substantiated by witnesses, and are taken seriously by the United Nations, and the United States.
On the day following these killings, Saturday, March 26, in Syria, thousands of mourners were attending the funeral, or watching the funeral procession of Kamal Baradan, one of the protestors. The funeral of Kamal Baradan was not in Damascus, rather in the village of Tafas, near the town of Daraa. We surmise he must have traveled for the initial protest. Baradan’s funeral turned into a riot in Tafas, as those present burned the local Baath Party headquarters and a police station. Three of the mourners, bare chested, carried signs demanding the downfall of the Syrian regime and climbed the decaying statue of late President Hafez al-Assad.
Viewers to televised and printed media are aware that protests in Syria have escalated considerably just in the past hours. The world will continue to change; regimes will react or fail to react. Morality at this difficult age is for each of us to determine.