DAMASCUS – The residents of the Syrian capital have staged mass protests to voice their disapproval of what they say is a “shameful underuse of Syrian flags and Bashar Al-Assad portraits in the city’s public spaces and on its structures”, Syrian state media has reported.
The protesters were angered that there are still far too many unused surfaces in public areas that could be painted in the colors and stars of the Syrian flag or on which posters of the President could be hung, and the dire impact this has had on their quality of life and well being.
“Look at that school over there, you see the entrance? The entire wall is painted into a giant Syrian flag, yes, but the door? Why not the door? Is this what our soldiers fought for? Look at the classrooms inside, why only one portrait of President Al-Assad? Does the room only have one wall? No, it has four walls! Why not four portraits then? And the ceiling, so much space, yet not ONE Syrian flag! What if some misguided youth draws the French mandate flag on the ceiling? What then, I ask you”, one disgruntled protester told the Syrian TV crew.
His friend continued: “We can’t live like this anymore, it’s unbearable! I can’t expose my children to enough Bashar every day anymore. We can only go to the nearest checkpoint every other day because of my work. How are we to survive like this? Look at the children, look at them, look how pale they are, look at that empty blank stare. They’re being robbed of their childhood!”
Another protester said: “We feel betrayed. There are so many roads, just grey. So many clear white light switches in government offices, unpainted. So many rifle stocks on videos from the war that could fit one or two stickers more. What’s happening to this great country? Yesterday the children brought dozens of barrels to surround our building with them, just so they could paint the barrels in the colors of the flag. They still haven’t got over the fact that the checkpoint is near the building down the road, instead of here, it’s been four years but it still burns, their heart yearns for President Assad, the flag, its two stars. My heart yearns too. Ya Bashar, why won’t you grace us with more of your figure in our everyday lives? Oh Lion, if I could paint the sky, I would paint it in the colors of Syria, with your watchful eyes as its two stars…”
The protesters demands echo recent concerns stated by Syrian state-sanctioned human right agencies: that there are simply too many bridges, building walls, light poles and other surfaces unadorned by Syrian flags or Assad portraits, and that the situation is fast approaching to the point of a humanitarian catastrophe. Some also argue that having only one Assad portrait in voting rooms during the 2014 election is the reason why Bashar Al-Assad won only 89% of the vote.
After it shot several dozen protesters, the Syrian government admitted that it had made a huge lapse with the lack of state flags and portraits and vowed to make things right. The Daily Scimitar tried to contact the leaders of the protests to ask how they received the news, but nobody had seen the people in question for the last two days. The government responded to our inquiry that it doesn’t give contact details of terrorists, and later that day released a thank you statement for the protesters’ patriotism, while state media mentioned that this was a clear sign to the president that he should push to legally extend his mandate to at least twenty years “to prevent further unrest”.