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Fri Apr 6, 2012, 02:56 PM

Syria: The virtue of civil disobedience

But, while YouTube clips - allegedly recorded a few days ago in Aleppo - are running on the screen, the young Syrian activist makes me notice that these protesters are still chanting "You are our brothers!" to the army, despite the fact that all media attention is catalysed either by the armed clashes between Assad's soldiers and the defected Free Syrian Army, or by the sectarian conflict allegedly going on between Syria's Alawi minority and Sunni majority.

Nevertheless, each week Ayyam al hurryia produces and posts videos, explaining the meaning of the non-violent struggle, its tactics and the patience to achieve results through peaceful resistance. Some videos address the pro-regime supporters too - the "mbhibbakjia" ("we love you") crowd - dealing with the national unity issue and the necessity of reconciliation among Syrian people.

Mutasem smiles when I quote Gene Sharp and his 1993 handbook From Dictatorship to Democracy. According to some conspiracy theories, the American scholar would have worked closely with US intelligence to help toppling regimes worldwide and would have supported anti-regime movements like Serbia's Otpor in their political fight. These theories enjoy a certain credit, especially when it comes to Syria, where everything happening on the ground would have to be engineered by foreigners, including civil resistance. Mutasem's smile now turns into laughter.

Syrians' non-violent struggle is indeed inspired by a Syrian scholar, Jawdat Said, who has been incarcerated many times for his writings on resisting oppression through non-violence. In 2001, he wrote: "We live in a world in which four fifths of its population live in frustration while the other fifth lives in fear."

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/04/20124283638298672.html

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