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SYRIA: As night settles, defiant protesters take to the streets [Video]

May 24, 2011 |  8:14 am

In the western town of Talbeeseh, protesters unearth creative ways to deliver their message to the regime of President Bashar Assad. Instead of using just banners and slogans, anti-regime demonstrators assemble under the night sky, illuminated only by flickering candles that spell out "the regime will be overthrown." 

The darkness hides throngs of dissidents, made visible for mere seconds as the camera flashes.

"Go away, go away," they sing in chorus. 

Even though the Assad' regime's wrath has descended upon various Syrian cities and towns to silence opposition, protesters have supplemented daytime gatherings with after-hours activities, as the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday. 


Activists in Syria call these popular nighttime demonstrations layliyeh, Arabic for "by night." But the term has cultural connotations that evoke the Arabian sahra -- when intellectuals, artists and admiring youth gather for evening exchanges.  

Walking through the street at night, you may run into a wise farmer, a shrewd artist, an inspired musician or a brave businessman. Even some in the Syrian capital of Damascus, the stronghold of the ruling regime, have heeded the nighttime call that has beckoned them.

Syria-protest-night-youtubeThe night protests may also deal a potentially greater blow to the security forces than do the mass Friday demonstrations that leave dozens dead in the course of hours. 

After an evening of chasing scurrying protesters, the sun rises on an exhausted security apparatus. 

Aside from keeping security personnel up all night, which severely impairs their performance the next day, evening protests give demonstrators a cloak of anonymity that not only encourages participation of those who are more cautious, but also conceals them from the gaze of the security apparatus.  

According to Wissam Tarif, director of human rights organization INSAN, the tactic has been successful.

"Members of the security forces are getting tired and are no longer patient and efficient in their interrogation techniques," he said.

Hundreds of protesters took the the streets of Homs, Hama, Aleppo and the Kaboun suburb of Damascus late Sunday and Monday night. 

In the video above, residents of Homs on Monday chant and whistle. "Freedom, Freedom, Freedom."

The darkness surrounds them and provides a platform for the triumphant inflection of the voices. 


Timeline: Uprising in Syria

-- Roula Hajjar in Beirut 

Videos: Residents of Homs gather around candlelight in the night; protesters march through Kaboun in Damascus; demonstrators in Homs demand freedom. Credit: YouTube

Photo: Candlelight spells out "the regime will be overthrown" in a creative display of protester demands. Credit: YouTube