Angry Arab’s correspondent in Homs
So I asked Angry Arab's correspondent (protester) in Homs to comment on relations with `Alawites and about women, he answered (he asked me to remove some personal references to protect his safety): "I donāt know what Shadid said. But do you mean are there checkpoints at which people are butchered according to their ID? Yes, from the shabihas side, but not from the thuwar. X was severely beaten up several times by the army just for being from Baba Amr. And his sister in lawās husband was kidnapped, and severely tortured to death. He was a taxi driver. Also, Y owns a store in a suburb of Homs. The guy he was renting it to was kidnapped and murdered, and SANA claimed that he was the leading funder of the āterroristsā. Y hadnāt received rent on the place for three months, the guy was so poor.
Y is a university student, and him and a hundred Homsi students were arrested, just for being from Homs. Thankfully they only spent a day in jail, but most of them needed medical aid when they came out.
So you see Asāad, this is just what happens to people I know. Multiply that by what happens in Homs, Latakia, Hama, Deir al Zour, Damascus country side, and a thousand other places that donāt make it to the news, and ask yourself what peopleās feelings towards Alawites should be? They should have murder in their eyes when they hear the name Alawite, right? Well, amazingly, they donāt. Inevitably some extremists might take matters into their own hands, but so far I have been astonished by the Syrian peopleās forbearance in the face of this unprecedented brutality. The regime wants to turn this into a sectarian war, and people in general have refused to oblige them...By the way, the latest Homsi joke is about the mazot shortage. You heard the phrase āSouria, Allah Hamihaā. Well, now its āSouria, Allah Emdafihaā...There are women in the demonstrations, but they always go out veiled to hide their identity. I know girls who usually donāt wear the veil but do so at demonstrations. There are quick women only demonstrations at the main commercial areas.
With regards to the chants, they havenāt changed much. Songs adapted to political slogans. Believe me, I have not once heard anything against Alawites or Christians, and it was only a couple of months ago that people started chanting āKhayen khayen khayen, el jaish el Souri khayenā.
As for organization, all I can tell you is what goes on in my own neighborhood. How do I know that the Ikhwan arenāt organizing the demos? Because they would be better organized if they were. Once at a Friday demo we tried to simulate the Syrian flag with colored pieces of cardboard. It took us half an hour just to get the red, white and black in the proper places. We didnāt even try to put the stars. Often Iāve seen disagreements on which chant to shout, and even on who the chant leader should be at any given moment. Half the time the video shots of the demos in my area arenāt very good.
I donāt know the people who organize the demos. I moved to my area at the start of the year, and Iāve deliberately kept a low profile so no one in my immediate area knows me too well. Iāve given numerous interviews to the BBC, and the last thing I need is some shabih recognizing my English accent. The only people who could possibly turn me in are close relatives, and if itās come to that, then I give up on this whole freedom idea.
I am however, amazed at how quickly professional looking banners are printed for the occasion. It is only on Wednesday when the slogan for a particular Friday is decided. By Friday morning banners are printed and disturbed all over the city.
You mentioned on your website dodgy anti-regime videos. Itās the regimeās fault really, they donāt allow impartial press coverage, so there is no way to guarantee anything. Please remember that a video camera isnāt always around for most of the atrocities that happen in Homs."