Some 4,000 Syrian expatriates staged a rally in support of opposition protesters in their native country in the first rally of its kind.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 8/17/2011, 7:16 PM
Some 4,000 Syrian expatriates staged a rare rally in Doha in support of protesters in their home country, the Qatar Tribune reported Wednesday.
The rally -- the first of its kind -- took place Tuesday evening with permission from Qatar's interior ministry.
“We are here to echo the screams of our people being slaughtered by the oppressor Bashar al Assad," Hesham al Mahmood from Damascus told Tribune reporters at the rally.
"The only fault of the victims is that they crave for basic human rights and freedom to live with dignity. I have managed to bring my mother and sister over here from Homs after their houses were razed to the ground and the household goods stolen by government troops," he added.
Rami al Semadi of Dara told reporters he cannot erase the image of his friend, Hamza al Khateeb, from his mind,“His only crime was that he had raised a voice for freedom. I’m sure had I been in Syria, then I would have done the same and met a similar fate."
A Qatari national who joined protesters told reporters, “We have taken part in the demonstration here in support of our brothers and sisters in Syria and their just cause. This is the least that we can do. People are sacrificing their lives for a better future which they well deserve.”
Qatar was the first Gulf Cooperation Council country (GCC) to recall its ambassador in Damascus after its embassy was attacked with stones and eggs on July 11, the same day the US and French diplomatic missions were targeted.
Officials in Doha later said that Damascus apologized for the attack, but Qatar did not send back its ambassador to Syria, Zayed Al Khayarine, and suspended work at the embassy.
The two countries have traditionally enjoyed cordial relations, but ties became strained after Damascus criticized the coverage of the Doha-based pan-Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera of the events in Syria since mid-March. Damascus has repeatedly accused Al Jazeera of bias and exaggeration.
Fellow GCC members Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain also recalled their ambassadors to Syria this month "for consultations."
Earlier, Syrian forces quit the port city of Latakia after a five-day bombardment by tanks and warships leaving 34 dead. Over 2,000 civilians have been slain by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in his bloody crackdown on protesters in the country.