Syria holds massive rallies to ‘support Homs’

Al Jazeera reports:

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets across Syria following Friday prayers, activists said, protesting against President Bashar al-Assad and defying an intensified military crackdown on their uprising.

Demonstrations demanding an end to Assad’s rule broke out in the Medan district of Damascus, the besieged city of Homs, Latakia on the coast and the southern city of Deraa.

About 400,000 protesters came out in the eastern province of Deir Ez Zor, on the border with Iraq’s Sunni heartland, activists said.

Anthony Shadid reports from Hama:

As anthems go, this one is fittingly blunt. “Come on Bashar, leave,” it declares to President Bashar al-Assad. And in the weeks since it was heard in protests in this city, the song has become a symbol of the power of the protesters’ message, the confusion in their ranks and the violence of the government in stopping their dissent.

Although no one in Hama seems to agree on who wrote the song, there is near consensus on one point: A young cement layer who sang it in protests was dragged from the Orontes River this month with his throat cut and, according to residents, his vocal cords ripped out. Since his death, boys as young as 6 have offered their rendition in his place. Rippling through the virtual communities that the Internet and revolt have inspired, the song has spread to other cities in Syria, where protesters chant it as their own.

“We’ve all memorized it,” said Ahmed, a 40-year-old trader in Hama who regularly attends protests. “What else can you do if you keep repeating it at demonstrations day after day?”

Tunisia can claim the slogan of the Arab revolts: “The people want to topple the regime.” Egyptians made famous street poetry that reflected their incomparable wit. “Come on Bashar, Leave,” is Syria’s contribution to the pop culture of sedition, the raw street humor that mingles with the furor of revolt and the ferocity of crackdown.

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