Over one year ago, opposition protests began in Syria. Chicago’s Syrian community immediately began protesting at home, and trying to raise as much awareness about the issues in their country as possible. Perhaps the most notable population of the Syrian community in the Chicagoland area which took control of organizing protests were its youth.
Beginning on December 18th, with only 35 people present, a few Syrian youths from various universities organized its first flashmob. This flashmob was modeled after a few which were performed in Canada, consisting of a silent frozen performance of solemn nature and melancholic music playing in the background. The point of these flashmobs is to raise awareness- participants are draped with Free Syria flags, signs which have pictures and descriptions of individuals (children included) who have been killed in the revolution thus far, and signs commemorating past massacres of a similar nature.
Because of the success of the first flashmob, the second one- held on December 29th had over 70 individuals participating. The participants froze for four minutes each in various poses such as praying, “playing dead”, and crying, on Michigan Avenue. The entire flashmob was filmed by a member of the Syrian Youth Council, who uploaded the video which has over 11,000 views as of February 17, 2012. After the flashmob, participants and organizers gathered near the Hope sign at Water Tower Place, and discussed what the next one will look like. One participant exclaimed, “InshaAllah (God willing) we won’t have to have a next one.”
Since Syria continued to witness more deaths and intensified struggle, a third flashmob was organized for February 11th in downtown Chicago. Over 100 individuals came to participate, and the event was captured by both Chicago Sun Times news and WBEZ radio. The video can be found here with over 4,000 views in its first two days of being posted.
Despite the freezing cold weather, many children, mothers, fathers, and youth came to participate in this great flashmob, which featured a section of individuals with signs commemorating the Hama massacre of 1982.
In light of recent condemnations of violence in Syria by various international organizations and governments, as well as the recent formation of the ‘friends of Syria’ council, youth in Chicago continue to fight for their country, their families, and to raise awareness about the atrocities occurring in Syria.