Syrians mount anti-Assad protest in Dubai

Crowd gathers at consulate demanding an end to bloodshed after the deaths of 15 people in Deraa.

Syrian nationals demonstarte outside the Syrian consulate in Dubai on March 24, 2011, to denounce what they called their government agression and the use of force against civilians in the Syrian city of Daraa,  a mainly Sunni tribal city near the Jordanian border. International rights groups reported mass arrests in Syria after 15 people were reportedly shot dead in Daraa.       AFP PHOTO/KARIM SAHIB
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DUBAI // More than 100 Syrians demonstrated yesterday afternoon outside the Syrian consulate in the emirate, condemning the deaths of 15 people in Deraa, a city in the southern part of their homeland.

The protesters, including the poet Ali Kanaan, gathered at noon and chanted slogans of "Syria free" and "Bashar out, out", referring to the country's president, Bashar al Assad.

They also called for the freedom of political prisoners and activists who had been recently arrested.

Mr Kanaan, 75, a resident of Abu Dhabi, travelled to Dubai to call for "freedom and justice".  He said: "I am a poet and I am for freedom. I cannot bear to see the blood of my people. I do not understand why the regime cannot understand dialogue. We need freedom and justice for the Syrian people."

They demonstrators said they would return if the bloodshed in Syria continued.

"At least 700 people, including children, have been arrested in Syria in just the last week. We want them to be released," said a female protester who asked not to be named.

"We want an end to the emergency law, which has been in our country for the past 48 years," said the protester, who had travelled from Abu Dhabi. "The media has ignored what is happening in Syria, and we want to highlight the plight of the people in Deraa," she said.

The Dubai demonstration was one of a series of demonstrations; others were staged in Berlin, Paris, London, Washington, DC, and Stockholm.

During the protest in Dubai, demonstrators physically assaulted a man who had stepped out of the consulate and accused the expatriates of being traitors. The man, who also chanted pro-Assad slogans, was removed from the area by security forces, according to the Agence France Presse.

After demonstrating for more than an hour, the protesters offered prayers for their country at a nearby mosque.