Local media hails ‘new age of democracy’ in Syria

Local media reports today were dominated by coverage of the national dialogue conference that will close today.

The two-day conference held at the Sahara Hotel in Damascus convened on Sunday to debate sweeping changes to the way Syria is governed.

But a large number of high-profile opposition figures invited by the government boycotted the event leading analysts to question its credibility.

However, local press reports today hailed the first day of discussions as heralding a “new wave of freedom of expression” and the dawn of “Syria on the road to democracy.

Several speakers at the conference did openly express critical views of the current government and security apparatus, something that would have been unthinkable just a few months ago.

Tayyeb Tizini, a lecturer at Damascus University, accused the regime of taking control of all decisions and asked to “dissolve the security state which is responsible for what Syria is going through”. He added that all political prisoners should be freed, the media should be given more freedom to operate independently and there should be an immediate end to the killing.

We should dismantle the security state that dominates the whole society. Now we are suffering the consequences of the police state. The police state will destroy every aspect of society as it keeps tabs on every Syrian citizen,” he said.

Mohammed Habbash, an independent MP, said Law 49, which says that members of the Muslim Brotherhood should be executed, should be abolished.

A part of what is going on is a result of foreign intervention, but 80% of it is a result of internal congestion that comes as a result of oppression and the practices of the security apparatus,” Habbash said.

A famous Syrian actor, Dureid Laham, criticised the narrative of the crisis propagated by the government and its media. He said that if there is a conspiracy to smuggle arms to groups in Syria it is being done with the help of the security services, as they must have been bribed at the borders to allow the weapons to enter the country.

Mohamed al-Khatib, a journalist questioned what he said was a hypocrisy in the way the security forces dealt with protesters. He gave an example of when a pro-government demonstration gathered outside the Four Seasons Hotel in central Damascus to quietly mourn the dead, but did not express zealous support for President Bashar al-Assad, they were treated well by the police, but when they were later attacked by a gang with sticks the police didn’t intervene.

The head of the Syrian Red Crescent, Dr. Abdul Rahman al-Attar, called for establishing a high commission for human rights and asked Vice President Farouk al-Shara’a to facilitate the work of the Red Cross because many Red Crescent volunteers have been arrested.

New governor in Hama takes office

Anas Abdul Razaq Na’em, a doctor from Hama, has been appointed as the new governor of Hama.

Razaq Na’em replaces the former governor Ahmad Khaled Abdul Aziz, who was dismissed from his post on July 2 following mass demonstrations in the restive city.

Razeq Na’em ran the local Ba’ath Party in Hama before his appointment. He said: “Restoring security and stability to Hama is a priority for me, in co-operation with the honest city residents to build bridges of trust and love, with the wise leadership of President Bashar al-Assad.

Local reports said the city has been under the control of armed groups since Monday, who are refusing to negotiate with the authorities and remove road blocks, while asking the regime to free prisoners and not arrest more demonstrators.

But reports by international news agencies said that the demonstrations were peaceful and that the army and security forces had been raiding houses in Hama and had shot at residents.

Syria Today (Syria)