Once again the news coming from Syria is full of pains, disappointments, and hopes. The people of Syria continue their protests against widespread corruption and the lack of freedom and democracy, and they do that at great risk. “Give me freedom or give me death” once proclaimed by Patrick Henry in a speech at the Virginia Convention is repeated daily by Syrian protesters in action rather than in words. The United Nations reported that as many as 850 may have been shot dead while thousands have been arrested by government security.
Anyone who follows the peaceful nature of the popular protests must applaud the courage of the protesters who are calling for democracy in Syria. Despite the use of excessive force, life ammunition, and arbitrary arrests, tens of thousands of Syrians have demonstrated against a regime that found it fitting to bring military units using tanks and heavy machine guns to disperse protesters. The killing of peaceful citizens by the very military which is supposed to protect them constitutes a crime against humanity and must be condemned by the whole world. The world must condemn the use of violence by the Syrian security forces and call for the immediate stop of shootings and arbitrary arrests. Political freedom and democratic government are long overdue and all people of conscience should stand by the free people of Syria who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice so that the rest of the population live under a system that respect the equal rights and freedoms of all people.
There is a significant community of Syrian Americans who decided not to sit idle watching the killing of peaceful protesters and the suppression of freedom. They are demonstrating in various cities, writing letters to their political representatives, and plan to meet in Washington DC to draft a plan of action to help intensify the pressure on those who resort to violence to stay in power and support the corrupt system that bring them personal benefit at the expense of everybody else. The Syrian American Council is organizing the Freedom for Syria Day on May 24 and has urged all Syrian Americans who care about the democratic future of Syria to take the day off and join hands with fellow citizens to advance the cause of freedom.
The cause of freedom and democracy in Syria will prevail, we should all be confident as the actions of the Syrian democratic movement flow in the direction of historical progress. While the last decade of the twentieth century witnessed the democratic transformation of Eastern Europe, the second decade of the twenty first century is now witnessing the democratic transformation of the Middle East. The hope though is that this will be done without escalating the current confrontation to a greater level of pain, and that the regime will realize that it cannot stop the march of freedom to a people determined to stand free and tall.
Dr. Louay Safi writes and lectures on issues relating to Islam and the West, democracy, human rights, leadership, and world peace. He is the Chairman of the Syrian American Council and a strong advocate of human rights. His commentaries are available at http://louaysafi.com.