Demonstrations still an integral feature of Syria’s revolution

McClatchy reports: Wael Nasrallah has organized more than 100 demonstrations in the past 20 months. On Friday, he led another one in Qalat al Mudiq, a city of about 30,000 in central Syria.

Even with civil war engulfing the country, the peaceful demonstrations that kicked off the rebellion against the government of President Bashar Assad so long ago continue, at least in this part of Syria. Often, the target is no longer the Assad regime but the rebels who now rule in many areas.

“It is still necessary because we have demands,” said the 35-year-old Nasrallah, who’s a truck driver by trade. “Today we mentioned two things: We want the revolutionaries to organize electricity service and to organize the distribution of bread.”

In other parts of the country, demonstrators also have called on the rebels to provide security, something Nasrallah and others say isn’t an issue here, and for the international community to provide weapons to the rebels.

In a country where people were generally terrified to speak freely before the rebellion began, the demonstrations are an important advance, activists say, and one people are loath to lose. People now can discuss what the future holds and generally appear unafraid to criticize the rebels themselves. The rebellion has empowered conservative Islamist groups who’ve done much of the frontline fighting and call openly for a state based on Islamic law, but the demonstration here Friday encompassed a wide range of the opposition’s members, from the conservative to the secular. [Continue reading...]

Demonstrators in Damascus today:

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