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Syria: Netizens Angered by Assad's Speech

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011/12.

Syrian President Bashar Al Assad gave a long rambling speech today, which further angered Syrians protesting against his dictatorship.

He spoke about a foreign conspiracy, or several of them, the meddling of the Arab League in his country's affairs and how much Syrians were supportive of his regime. In his speech, he promised both reform, just as he did in past speeches, and also revenge against protesters – more than 5,000 of whom have been killed since protests started in Syria in March.

When Arab leaders speak, netizens take to their keyboards and engage in taking a stab at heads of states who put themselves in such a position. Here is a round up of reactions from Twitter as Al Assad addressed his people – the same people being killed for protesting for democratic rights.

Mohammed Al Dahshan, from Egypt, tweets [ar]:

‏ واضح أن بيبو الأسد مش فاهم معنى كلمة معارضة إيه أساسا. بجد مش معقول إعادة التعريف الللغوي اللي بيعمله حكام العرب

@eldahshan: It is clear that Assad does not understand the basic meaning of opposition. Seriously, the way Arab leaders are reinterpreting the Arabic language is impossible to comprehend.

And he comments on the theatrics which usually accompany Assad's speeches, which are interrupted with applauses, saying:

@eldahshan: So you think the applause is prerecorded, like sitcoms keda? :) #assadspeech RT @maimoghli @eldahshan I dont think there is audience anyway!

As Assad continued to speak, so did the confusion of netizens.

Syrian Muhammed Basheer asks [ar]:

قبل شوي قال مافي معارضة قبل الانتخابات ولازم يكون في معارضة لها قاعدة شعبية! هلأ قال بعض قوى المعارضة حاورت! شو يعني؟ ‎#Syria‏
@MBAA: A few minutes ago he said there was no opposition before the elections and that there had to be opposition with a popular base! Now he is saying that the opposition is engaged in a dialogue. What is he saying?

Lebanese Antoun Issa comments:

@antissa: #AssadSpeech exceedingly confident in his speech. Doesn't appear conciliatory by any means.

While LibyanStateTV quips:

@LibyanStateTV: Bashar should have asked himself “What would Gaddafi Do?”, and perhaps this would have produced a better speech #AssadSpeech

Jordanian Nadine Toukan tweets:

@nadinetoukan: Assad is clearly convinced he lives in fiction. #Syria

And Syrian Wissam Tarif adds:

@wissamtarif: Al Assad is talking as if he will be in power for ever #Syria

Many Twitter users translated and posted quotes from Assad's speech online as he spoke. Among them is Sultan Al Qasseemi, from the UAE, who had enough. He states:

@SultanAlQassemi: I can't watch this crazy person any longer. Switching TV off.

And to cap it all, Saudi Ahmed Al Omran, a production assistant for NPR, just tweeted:

@ahmed: On the same day of Bashar al-Assad's speech, at least 28 people killed in Syria according to the latest death toll provided by LCC.

The LCC is the Local Coordination Committees of Syria.

In a follow up tweet, he writes:

@ahmed: Can I get a T-shirt that says “I survived a whole speech by Bashar al-Assad”?

Stay tuned for more coverage from Syria.

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011/12.

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