observers in Syria have issued an initial report recommending the continuation of their controversial mission assessing whether or not the regime of President Bashar al-Assad is adhering to a peace plan. The crackdown on protests that began in March of last year and have since turned into a full-fledged uprising, however, shows no signs of abetting. The latest wave of repression has hit close to home for Anaheim businessman and former city council hopefulBill Dalati, who lost a relative to Assad’s goons last week.
Prior to the latest news, Dalati–who twice ran for Anaheim City Council in 2006 and 2010 and became a Democrat because of it once OC GOP members began spewing anti-Muslim rhetoric against him–recently recounted to me in an interview last week that he had lost family members to the violence. “I cannot accept that much killing,” he said as he planned to depart on the Liberty Convoy for Syria, a humanitarian mission aimed at delivering food and medical supplies to distressed areas. The United Nations places the number of civilians killed since the uprising ten months ago at more than 5,000.
Violence continued this past week, claiming the life of Samir Dalati, a relative of the Anaheim businessman who owns property in the city’s Little Arabia district. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Friday that Samir, 42, was killed by snipers in Zabadani, a suburb of Damascus. YouTube videos have since been uploaded showing graphic images of his slain body as well as the funeral afterward where mourners chanted as he was carried through the streets.
The dynamics of the Arab revolts in the Middle East and North Africa have had direct implications on the Arab-American community here in Orange County with the death of Belal Dalati’s relative being a most recent and dramatic episode. Where the call for the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt was widely celebrated locally nearly one year ago, Syria has created sharp divisions as the uprising against Assad continues. Either way, Orange County is unequivocally a part of the Arab Spring with all its hope and despair.