Beirut, Sept 8 (The Street Press) – People in the southern Syrian city of Sweida took down a big picture of President Bashar al-Assad on Friday. They did this during protests against the government that started three weeks ago. More and more people joined these protests, coming from nearby villages.
In videos shared on activist pages, some men were shown tearing down a banner with Assad’s face on it, which was hanging above the local Farmers’ Union branch. After that, they sealed the office doors shut.
Criticism of Assad has been getting stronger in Sweida since protests started in mid-August. These protests began because the government removed fuel subsidies, which added to the difficulties people were already facing due to the country’s economic problems.
Sweida is the main city in a province with the same name, and it’s where most of Syria’s minority Druze community lives. During the civil war, this city stayed under government control and mostly avoided the violence seen in other parts of Syria.
In areas of the country controlled by the government, openly criticizing it has been unusual. However, due to the challenging economic situation, public dissatisfaction is growing, and this discontent is increasingly aimed at President Assad.
In Sweida city, hundreds of people gathered at Karama Square during the protests, proudly displaying the multi-colored Druze flag. The crowds chanted slogans like, “We raised our voices and Assad ran in fear!” and “Hey Bashar, we don’t want you!”
Earlier this week, protesters removed a portrait of Bashar’s father, former President Hafez al-Assad, from a government building and even damaged a bust of his head, hitting it with their shoes.
In other government-controlled areas of Syria, where restrictions are stricter, residents have expressed their discontent more subtly to avoid being noticed by government forces.