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Journalist Mahmoud Ibrahim’s Arrest: A Price for Solidarity with Suweyda

The journalist from a state newspaper posted a message of solidarity from Tartous, challenging the narrative of betrayal, according to the Syrian Network of Human Rights
Journalist Mahmoud Ibrahim’s Arrest: A Price for Solidarity with Suweyda

Three days have elapsed since Mahmoud Ibrahim, a journalist for “Al-Thawra,” a state-run newspaper, was detained in Tartous for endorsing the peaceful protests in Suwayda through a Facebook post. His current whereabouts remain unknown.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights informed Enab Baladi that Ibrahim is still in custody, with no details available regarding his detention location or the arresting entity. Initially expected to be transferred to Tartous Central Prison from the Palace of Justice—where he was apprehended—he has yet to arrive, leading to speculation of military security’s involvement in his arrest and interrogation.

Concerns are mounting over Ibrahim’s health as he battles multiple ailments and requires ongoing medical attention, raising alarm among his family members regarding his wellbeing.


The Backstory

The saga began on August 25, 2023, amid the burgeoning movement in Suwayda, when Ibrahim posted a message of solidarity from Tartous, extending “peace and a thousand peace” without further commentary. This was followed by a reflection on how longstanding ties within state roles, civil institutions, and the military have shaped perspectives towards the movement in Suwayda, challenging the narrative of betrayal and coercion promoted by certain quarters.

These posts were perceived as a declaration of support for the Suwayda movement, leading to repercussions for Ibrahim. By January 1, his salary from the “Al-Wahda” Printing and Publishing Corporation, overseeing “Al-Thawra,” was halted without formal notice. The Tartous newspaper director remained silent on the matter, further isolating Ibrahim.

Ibrahim accused a colleague, Shaaban Ahmed, of filing a security report against him, which precipitated his summons for interrogation and subsequent charges of supporting armed disobedience, violating Syria’s constitution, and tarnishing the state’s prestige. These accusations culminated in the termination of his contract with “Al-Wahda” and a ban on future government employment, underscoring the consequences of his solidarity with the Suwayda protests.


External Advocacy Versus Internal Apathy

While international human rights and media organizations, along with journalists and activists abroad, have rallied for Ibrahim’s release, domestic support has been notably absent. Despite being a member, the “Syrian Journalists Union” remained passive, with only close acquaintances expressing solidarity online. Conversely, the “Syrian Journalists Association” has called for the protection of journalists and the cessation of arbitrary legal actions against them, highlighting the precarious situation of media professionals in regime-held areas.


Arrests Beyond Ibrahim

The Syrian regime’s crackdown extends beyond Ibrahim, with other journalists facing arrest for dissenting voices. Kenan Waqaf, a former “Al-Wahda” journalist, and Hala Al-Jarf, a state television journalist, represent cases where posts on social media have led to detention, underscoring the regime’s intolerance towards free expression. This oppressive climate has positioned Syria near the bottom in global freedom of expression rankings, with a 175th place out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ 2023 index.


This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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