Pro-Assad journalist arrested in Syria for insulting MP

omar abdullah



Omar Abdullah was released Friday after a social media campaign denounced his detention at the hands of Hama Military Intelligence.

A pro-Assad journalist detained by the Syrian Military Intelligence branch in Hama for purportedly insulting a parliamentarian has been released after a social media campaign erupted among supporters of the Bashar al-Assad government blasting his arrest.

A popular pro-Assad Facebook page reported Tuesday that Omar Abdullah had been arrested “in a manner close to kidnapping” in the regime-controlled town of Maysaf for a Facebook post insulting Hama MP Hamid Ibrahim.

“The arbitrary arrest took place after ‘the thorn’ pricked parliamentarian Hamid Ibrahim following the raising of suspicions against him in one of Omar [Abdullah]’s posts that attacked him personally,” Hama News claimed.

The Hama News report—entitled “Patriots arrested in the time of terrorism!!!?”—went on to slam Ibrahim, saying the MP had “forgotten the oath that he swore before the people to be a representative of the people, and a protector of the homeland and its bounties.”

“He put all his weight behind silencing Omar Abdullah and he made use of the security branches – the function of which is to protect the homeland from its saboteurs, not the opposite,” the angry post added.

Abdullah is an administrator and founding member of the Maysaf News Facebook page, which has over 100,000 followers.

The page defends its own “patriotism” and support for the Assad regime, saying that it has made “a serious contribution to raising the morale of Syrians in the confrontation with the terrorist media flood that contradicts the reality of the victories of our army.”

On Thursday afternoon, Maysaf News announced Abdullah’s release, with a post that read: “Praise be to God for the safe [return] of the [page’s] administrator.”

The post did not go into further details on the circumstance of his discharge.

The Syrian journalist’s release came after his supporters started a media campaign under the banner “No to Silence” calling for his release.

A number of popular pro-Assad Facebook pages not only in the Hama region but also the government’s Alawite-populated coastal heartland posted media with the hashtag “voice of justice” (#صوت_الحق) in support of Abdullah.

Although Abdullah’s supporters were outraged that an MP from Syria’s ruling Baath Party had exploited his position to have him arrested, they emphasized the journalist’s credentials as a supporter of the Assad government and used pro-regime language and symbols in their posts.

The Hama News page called Abdullah a “young patriotic activist” while his own Maysaf News said he had “accompanied the heroes of the Syrian Arab Army and allied forces in their war against terrorism in the Al-Ghab Plain.”

His supporters insisted the journalist was a crusader against corruption, with one post declaring: “if the choice now is to silence Omar and keep corrupt individuals [in place] without holding them to account, [then] today #We_Are_All_Omar_Abdullah against corruption.”

Maysaf News revealed that Abdullah had been arrested briefly in 2014 for exposing “certain aspects of the corruption practiced by people of influence hiding behind the name of ‘the homeland’ in Hama countryside, especially in the Masyaf area,” without going into further detail.

One graphic calling for his release included a quote from former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad against government malfeasance: “I do not want anyone to remain silent about something that is wrong or to cover up flaws and defects.”

Albin Szakola

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