I was sat with some friends, 1 westerner and 3 Syrians, at about 10 last night when one of the Syrians got a phone call. There were protesters outside the Umayyad mosque, about a 1000 them. The police had apparently tried to disperse them, but failed. We started talking about government corruption, and how the government needed to get rid of people who use their position to enrich themselves, by whatever means that takes, even if they were brothers, mothers, or more pertinently cousins of the people who are supposed to make sure it doesn’t happen. Thinking about it now though, it was the other Westerner who did most of the talking, though he does like the sound of his own voice so this is hardly unusual. Pausing only to concoct a cover story (we wanted ice cream from Bakdash) the Westerner and I got a bus into town to check out the action. Two of the Syrians felt the protest was good news and were quite excited; the other seemed quite ‘whatever’ about the whole thing. None of them came with us, one of them on the grounds that if the revolutions come it’ll be there in the morning, which while probably correct, doesn’t seem to be the logic of a newly empowered youth, taking his and his countries destiny into his own hands. When we got the mosque nothing was happening, nor was it actively not happening like in Saudi, where there were police stationed every 5 meters. The piazza in front of the mosque looked its usual night-time self, with cars parked and a few street sellers. We repaired to the ice cream shop and discussed Ameya grammar while watching a woman in a face veil eating ice-cream. It’s not unusual to see veiled women with an ice cream, but I’ve never seen their faces while they eat and have no idea how they do it.
Today I passed the mosque shortly after midday prayers. Other than a denser than usual tour group presence, the mosque and Hammedya were pretty much the same as usual. The square in front of the mosque is used as a car park overnight, but is normally empty of cars in the morning, I don’t know if there’s a bylaw enforcing this. Today the cars are still in place, which could be a coincidence that signals how confident people are that nothing will happen and trash their vehicles, or it could be a way of making it harder for people to assemble. Nothing online about yesterday’s protests, but from asking around it seems that something, though no one knows what, happened.