Students rally in support of Syrians

Ramzi Saifan, right, and Naeem Al-Oudat, both graduate students in electrical and computer engineering, protest Thursday in the Free Speech Zone.

Katherine Marcheski

The Egyptian Student Association and other members of the local Arab community gathered in solidarity in front of Parks Library in response to continuing bloodshed in the Middle East, particularly in Syria.

Syrians have followed in the footsteps of Egyptians, Tunisians and Libyans in the pursuit of freedom, and have risen up against the oppression placed on them by their government. 

“People are being killed in the streets for no reason,” said Anwar Mohamed, graduate assistant in political science and president of the Egyptian Student Association. “We are bringing awareness to the brutal massacres and to show solidarity.”

Six weeks ago, police brutality sparked rallying and unrest among citizens, and a lack of governmental support has sparked a revolution among the Syrian people.

“There are great fears in Syria that it might become another Libya,” Mohamed said. “The army is involved against the people, and already 300 have been killed, in less than five weeks.”

Omar Manci, ISU alumnus and Ames community member, was a speaker at the rally.

“We’re out here to inform Americans of this system. You know, we have a court of law here in America, but this is not the reality in the Middle East, especially in Syria,” Manci said. “This demonstration is in support of the peaceful reforms that are trying to be made. The Syrians who are fighting for their rights is not something Americans should be afraid of.”

Manci is an American-born citizen, but has lived in Jordan with his family. He has grown up in both America and the Middle East and finds the unrest across the world particularly challenging.

“These people are just like you and me; they have families, jobs, dreams. They are trying to get their basic rights,” Manci said. “We can come out and speak today without army tanks rolling through campus, they don’t have that option.”

Manci stressed the importance of international relations, and that Americans need to realize the similarities between all people.

“We need to see the face, the people, the humanity behind the price at the pump,” Manci said. “As Americans we need to identify with the people there, not the stereotypes or the economy, but the people. They want freedom not fear.”

Part of the rally included singing of Syria’s national anthem and chanting.

Part of the anthem roughly translates to, “The protectors of the House of Syria, peace be upon you. You refuse to be demeaned because you are proud people. Syria is the core house of Arab people. It is a sacred house of the sun.”

The chant was also very positive and supportive of Syria, which when translated to English means, “God, freedom, Syria. One, one, one, Syria will be one.”

One of the onlookers of the demonstration, Hannah Scott, junior in elementary education, found the rally to be educational.

“It is discouraging to see how many people walk by, about this issue,” Scott said. “You know, this could be us some day. I believe peace will happen, but only when people overlook their prejudices.”