Friday, May 18, 2012

Aleppo students stand tall

[Originally posted at NOW Lebanon]

Students raise the Free Syria flag at Aleppo University (Source: @HamaEcho twitter account)

There isn’t very much to say about the scenes from Aleppo University yesterday that isn’t instantly communicated by these images and videos.

It was just one of those unambiguously wonderful moments, when basic decency stands up to cruelty, and refuses to sit down again thereafter. I imagine that when the revolution finally succeeds, this will be one of the days the Syrian people look back on with the most pride.

As a symbolic site, Aleppo University is almost unimprovable. Aleppo, the most populous city in the country, was a bastion of regime support, we were always being told. Its largely Christian middle-class was said to be highly distrustful of the opposition, fearing an Iraq-style slaughter once the Salafists established the caliphate in Damascus, as we were assured they would.

So much for all that.

On the campus squares yesterday, clean-shaven young men stood shoulder to shoulder with (often unveiled) women, carrying not the black flags of Islam but the green, white, red and black of Free Syria. Nor were they chanting “No God but Allah,” but “Hafez al-Assad – dog of the Arab world” and “The people want to arm the Free Syrian Army.”

In honor of their courage – the students were tear-gassed, beaten and reportedly even fired upon by regime forces – today’s protests across the country will take place under the banner of the “Heroes of Aleppo University.”

I’ll drink to that.  

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