The use of Islamist slogans by protesters during weekly Friday demonstrations against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has triggered criticism among an already-fractured opposition.
Activists have been organising online polls on “The Syrian Revolution 2011” Facebook page since the beginning of the uprisings in March last year to pick slogans for demonstrations that usually take place after Friday prayers.
But slogans like “victory from God,” “God’s Victory is near” and “armies of Islam, set us free,” have provoked criticism from many in the fragmented opposition, which includes the Muslim Brotherhood, nationalists, liberals and independents.
Syrian activist and journalist Kinan Ali said the use of religious slogans “shows that the opposition is bankrupt of political ideas.”
Abdul Karim Karman, a Hama-based activist, agreed.
“I am a committed Muslim but Islamist slogans do not benefit (the revolt) and do not represent everyone,” Abdul Karim Karman, a Hama-based activist, told AFP though Skype.
“We need slogans that have political content for the Syrian public and for the international community.”
Activist Yusef al-Shami, from Syria’s Druze city of Sweida, complained of the negative impact of these slogans on demonstrations.
“They have weakened the protests in some areas of Syria,” he said.
“The largest demonstrations took place when the focus was the slogan ‘revolt for all Syrians.”
The activists have also questioned the authenticity of the polls on Facebook, saying they are not scientific.
Under pressure, Syria’s main opposition alliance, the Syrian National Council (SNC), has decided to create a new application on Facebook, ensuring “transparent” voting, by imposing new rules such as banning Internet users from voting more than once.
SNC chief Burhan Ghalioun announced on Thursday that he is resigning.
His announcement came shortly after the Local Coordination Committees, a network of activists on the ground in Syria, threatened to pull out of the SNC over its “monopolisation” of power.
The SNC, which was founded in October 2011, was particularly criticised for not sufficiently coordinating with activists inside the country, and for the strong influence wielded by representatives of Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood.
More than 12,000 people, the majority of them civilians, have died since the Syrian uprising began, according to monitors.