Syrians opposed to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad mourned the death of Apple co-founder and innovator Steve Jobs while noting that, had Jobs been born in Syria, he would never have accomplished what he did. Jobs’ biological father, Abdulfattah Jandali, was from Homs, a city that has been a center of the seven-month anti-regime protest:
“The wrong Syrian died today,” said one Twitter user, echoing sentiments of the Syrian leader’s bitter opponents.
“A sick world we live in when Steve Jobs has to die of cancer and Bashar al-Assad remains Syria’s cancer,” another opposition supporter said on the website.
Others hailed Jobs, whose Syrian links have been little mentioned until now, as “a great Arab American” and “the most famous Arab in the world”.
In Syria, some people, who all declined to give their full names, said Jobs would have been unlikely to have had such a stellar career if he had lived in the land of his father’s birth, where the Assad family has ruled for 41 years.
“I felt sad, not because he is of Syrian origin but because we will miss the inventor and his inventions,” said Rana, a 21-year-old student. “But I think that if he had stayed in Syria, he would not have invented anything.”
“This is sad and we will miss a lot of his achievements, but the company will continue,” said Ali, a website designer. “If he had lived and died in Syria, he would not have accomplished anything.”
As of this week, 2,900 Syrians have died in seven months of protests, according to the United Nations. At least 187 of those killed are children, according to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. Just this Friday, activists said that 21 people were killed including two prominent Syrian opposition leaders. Mashaal Tammo, the founder of the liberal Kurdish Future Movement Party, was killed when four masked gunmen burst into a private house where he and others were meeting in Qamishli, in northern Syria. His son Marcel and another activist, Zahida Rashkilo were wounded. Riad Seif, a dissident and former political prisoner, was beaten to death by government security operatives as he left Al Hassan Mosque in Damascus.
SANA, the official Syrian Arab News Agency, offered a very different account, saying that Tammo was a “nationalistic opposition leader” who had been killed by four gunmen in a car.
After the killings, Basma Kodmani, a spokeswoman for the newly formed opposition group, the Syrian National Council — which numbered Tammo and Seif among its members – said that Assad’s regime had “crossed a new stage in the strategy of repression.”
As the violence in Syria continues, and as talk of civil war grows, Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, called on Assad to reform or leave office. Russia has been a Syrian ally since the cold war and, earlier this week, had blocked a UN resolution condemning the Syrian government’s crackdown. In a statement reported in the Russian news media, Medvedev said:
“If the Syrian leadership is incapable of conducting such reforms, it will have to go. But this decision should be taken not in Nato or certain European countries. It should be taken by the Syrian people and the Syrian leadership.”
Turkey, Syria’s neighbor and until the crackdown its ally, said that military measures are not out of the question in addressing the crisis in Syria due to the country’s role in the region. “Every domestic crisis in Syria will affect Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and Jordan,” said Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu.
Al Jazeera’s Nir Rosen describes protests last July and August during Ramadan in Damascus and elsewhere in Syria, including Homs. In this city, Rosen found that — very much counter to the Syrian government’s claims that the protesters are “Islamic extremists, outside infiltrators, mercenaries, drug addicts, poor criminals” — the “educated and affluent residents of Homs [are] united in opposition.” After young men ran into an apartment stairwell when security forces started firing, the older residents brought them “water, cigarettes, and a platter of tea with a kettle and glasses” and offered to let the protesters use their phone to contact their families.
Jobs could not have accomplished what he did had he lived in Syria, but, despite seven months of a bloody and brutal crackdown, the spirit of protest and fighting against the regime remains.
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