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Tunisia: Arab Bloggers Discuss the Situation in Syria

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011.

Syria has been on the minds and lips of many participants of this week's Third Arab Bloggers Meeting in Tunis. The celebratory spirit provoked by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt has been dampened by discussions about Syria, where regime violence is increasing, the death toll is nearing 3,000, and many see no end in sight.

Several sessions on Syria have taken place at the meeting. On Wednesday, bloggers discussed the impact of digital activism in Syria, focusing heavily on the Syrian Electronic Army, the pro-regime hacking group recently responsible for defacing Harvard University's website. Noting that President Bashar Al Assad had thanked the Electronic Army for its efforts, Amira Al Hussaini commented: “SICK.”

A symbol used by Syrian digital activists, urging an end to repression

One Syrian participant stated that the impact of digital activists in Syria has been “minimal,” and quoting another participant, @weddady remarked that “many of #Syria electronic activists impact was strictly limited to mobilizing foreign media, they're not organizers on the ground.”

The discussion also touched upon the issue of authenticity, with some Syrians inside the country emphasizing the legitimacy of diaspora voices, as @redrazan tweeted:

Treating the voices of Syrians inside as authentic and the ones in disapora as not so much, is ridiculous. #Syria

Anonymously quoting a Syrian participant, @ahmed tweeted:

How can Syrians abroad help protesters on the ground in Syria? Is there ways to do that? #ab11

Bloggers also discussed organizing in Syria, where protests are often quickly dispersed and movement is restricted. @ahmed translated and transcribed the comments of Syrian participants, noting the difficulty of organizing and remarking that Syrians “invented “flying protestes”: quick 2-min protest that gets filmed & uploaded.”

Syria is “pulling at my heart strings”

Thursday morning, one of the Syrian participants who had recently spent time in the country gave a talk on the dire situation in the country, prompting Jordanian blogger Naseem Tarawnah (@Tarawnah) to note:

Hands down, #Syria has been the most emotional talk of #AB11 & as a Jordanian its pulling at my heart strings. #BlessSyria

Quoting the speaker, Tarawnah also wrote that, after seven months, “no opposition group has demonstrated its ability to break the regime,” asking “Where do we go from here?”

Syrian-Spanish blogger Leila Nachawati also quoted the speaker, explaining:

Syrian participant explained the ways in which the Syrian government is trying to ignite sectarianism to provoke a civil war.

Although the situation is dire, the Syrian speaker injected hopefulness into the discussion. According to Lilian Wagdy, the blogger also proclaimed that the only hope for #Syria is #Egypt ‘s revolution ending in success, and that Syrians don't want to “co-exist together, [they] want to ‘live’ together.”

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011.

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