News / Middle East

Syrian Expats Lend Support to Protests From Abroad

Jeff Swicord

For many Syrian dissidents scattered around the world, the anti-government backlash in Syria is bittersweet.  They support political change at home, but they are horrified by the government's brutal crackdown.

From the basement office of his home in the U.S., Ammar Abdulhamid does his part to support what he calls the Syrian revolution.  Like many Syrian expatriates, Abdulhamid keeps in regular contact with people inside the country, following events and forwarding what he learns through his blog: Syrian Revolution Digest.

"Our job is to basically make sure that the international community and Obama administration and the people in Congress understand what the protesters want," said Abdulhamid.

In 2005, after writing articles critical of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Abdulhamid and his family left Syria.

"The question was whether I [was] going to end up in a coffin or prison," added Abdulhamid.  "But the brother-in-law of the president gave me a third alternative, which was to leave the country."

Today, supporting the protesters from abroad is a family enterprise.  Abdulhamid's wife is currently meeting with Syrian expatriates and officials in Europe, while he lobbies Congress and private organizations in Washington.  

"This is not an Islamist revolution, or a socialist revolution or a capitalist revolution.  This is basically very pragmatic," Abdulhamid noted.  "This is about living conditions, about dignity, about the desire to be empowered, to take part in the decision making process in the country."

Abdulhamid also talks with the activists inside Syria about the importance of avoiding sectarian violence.  Syria has a wide array of religious groups: Sunni Muslims, Christians, Alawites, Druze and Ismaelites.  Many fear that if the Assad regime falls, the country could descend into sectarian violence like Iraq.

"There are mistakes for sure," said Abdulhamid.  "There are problems for sure, but I think the protest leaders inside the country have proven exemplary to keep this revolution moderate and on the right track and peaceful."

Through his blog he advocates regime change, and draws distinctions with other uprisings of the Arab Spring.

"We don't want a military coup like Egypt or Tunisia because even though this might reduce the suffering a little bit.  But it might also saddle us with the continuation of the regime by other means," Abdulhamid noted.

He says the difficult part is becoming emotionally attached to the people inside Syria he meets in chat rooms and on Skype.  He fears for their safety.

"Really, it is a heart-wrenching reality that you have to deal with day after day," said Abdulhamid.  "Not only our family but all Syrian expats who have developed these contacts with groups inside.  We never know who is going to disappear."

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid