The Syrian opposition considers taking up arms against the regime. Belgians are using humour to denounce the institutional crisis. And Indian activist Anna Hazare steps up his online visibility.
Syrian opposition considers taking up arms
With the army regaining control of Rastan after several days of fighting with army defectors, Syria could be on the verge of civil war. If the amateur video footage which is circulating online is anything to go by, tanks were deployed en masse to this western Syrian town where hundreds of defectors had joined protesters.
Thousands of mutineers have now reportedly joined the so called “Free Syrian Army”. Videos of officers boasting about successful operations against loyalist forces have been posted on the army’s Facebook page. They claim to have killed around 700 Syrian soldiers in total, although it is impossible to verify these figures.
But more and more details about this armed opposition group, which was just a rumour a few weeks ago, are surfacing each day. And it would appear the defections are multiplying. Videos of officers announcing their decision to join the opposition are emerging on the Internet on a regular basis. In these messages the deserters are calling upon their former comrades to join them.
And in view of the ongoing violent repression of the uprising which began 6 months ago, ordinary Syrian citizens could also be tempted to take up arms. But according to Ammar Abdulhamid, a dissident living in exile, most Syrian activists are determined to continue protesting peacefully and want to avoid an escalation of violence.
Belgian web users mock their political representatives
Belgium may have been caught up in an unprecedented institutional crisis since April 2010, but this has not stopped Belgian web users poking fun at their political representatives. And their latest victim is the Minister of Employment Joëlle Milquet who recently claimed it was thanks to her that Belgium’s caretaker prime minister Yves Leterme is to become the new OECD Deputy Secretary General.
Social networkers have been using the key words "c’est Joelle", meaning “it’s Joelle” to mock the Minister’s excessive self-confidence, by making up things she could claim credit for. So for example, who invented printing, the ham sandwich, cheese, penicillin, who was responsible for the Big Bang which created the universe ? “It’s Joelle”.
For many Belgians, the teasing is a way for them to express their exasperation with the country’s political impasse, and to denounce the inaction of the authorities. Citizens have staged all sorts of tongue in cheek events since the institutional crisis began. As we can see here, on the 17th of February for example, thousands of Belgians took to the streets for the “chips revolution”. Once again, social media platforms played an important role in coordinating the movement.
The rather wacky tone of this event is reminiscent of the movement launched on national television by the actor Benoît Poelvoorde back in January, when he called upon his fellow male citizens to quit shaving until Belgium had a new government. Although his appeal did not achieve what he had hoped, it did receive a great deal of online coverage at the time.
Indian activist Anna Hazare joins social networks
Indian activist Anna Hazare who campaigns against corruption in India has joined a number of social media platforms. He has started a blog and set up accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Google +. He has said he wants to put a stop to false rumours being spread online by people claiming to be him, and encourage debate and discussion on the deep rooted corruption that pervades all levels of Indian society.
Now trending on social networks
Ever since Monday morning, the words Beutler, Hoffman and Steinman have become highly frequent on social networks because they are the names of the American, French and Canadian scientists who share the 2011 Nobel Prize for Medicine for their studies on the immune system. The award has created a huge buzz online and messages of congratulations for the three winners have been pouring in.
Video of the day
What do the workers at a big shopping centre in Rennes, in France get up to at night when all the shoppers have left the building? Well, they set up a huge domino line in the shop aisles using all sorts of products off the shelves … it’s a pretty impressive show but may make you think twice before buying a packet of biscuits or some crystal glasses from this particular store…