Damascus bridal protest ends in prison

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A ‘wedding of freedom’ in the Syrian capital Damascus last week ended with the four ‘brides’ being hustled off by security forces. The current whereabouts of the young women are unknown, but their eye-catching protest continues to resonate in the conflict-torn country, writes Taleb Ibrahim.

Rima Aldali, Kinda Alzaaour, Lubna Alzaaour and Ruaa Jaafar dressed in bridal clothing and walked, ululating through the famous Medhat Pasha market at the busiest time of day. They carried dramatic red banners with white lettering on the background: Syria for all of us; You grow tired and we grow tired; We want another solution for Syria; Civil society declares an end to military action in Syria.

Their protest came to an abrupt end when members of the Syrian security forces and regular army soldiers dressed in camouflage outfits and bulletproof vests took the four young women into custody. Originally the protest action was intended to be much bigger. An activist, who asked to remain anonymous, told RNW that others who had planned to take part withdrew at the last minute for fear of arrest, leaving the four to carry on alone.  

Click to watch mobile phone footage of the women’s arrest. Story continues below. 

One of the arrested ‘brides’ was Rima Aldali, a controversial figure in Syria. Her fearless determination has seen her raising a banner demanding freedom in front of the Syrian parliament, while many others don’t dare to talk about freedom even in their homes. Comments she has posted on her Facebook page have also angered conservative groups, which have accused her of “atheism” and offending Islam. They've called for her murder. 

The bridal protest has captured the imagination of many in Syria, with photos and videos spreading rapidly via social media. Syrian poet Rafidah Alkhabaz condemned the arrest of the young women, and political activist Nada Alkhush described them as the voice of a movement that will not stop until it has achieved ‘the noble goal of freedom and building a civil society'.