Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page Administrator, Fidaaldin Al-Sayed Issa, Interviewed by Adam Almkvist

Interview with Fidaaldin Al-Sayed Issa, administrator of the Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page
By: Adam Almkvist
Translated for Syria Comment by Adam Almkvist


Fidaaldin Preaches about the Aqsa Mosque and Palestine

[Note from Joshua Landis: Syria Comment published an article about Fidaaldin entitled: The Man behind “Syria Revolution 2011″ Facebook-Page Speaks Out. This is Fidaaldin’s blog]

Interview:

It was when the content of the Facebook page Syrian Revolution 2011 was sabotaged when its administrator, whose identity had hitherto been concealed, posted a video in which he condemns what he believes is a hacker attack. Shortly after, the video, which is now posted on Youtube, is removed when the problem turns out to be caused by a technical error. The identity of the administrator identity turned out to be Fidaaldin Al-Sayed Issa, a Swedish citizen living in Eskilstuna, a medium-sized town close to the capital Stockholm. The Facebook page that Issa administers has over 170 000 members and has been identified as the most influential social networking tool in the mobilization of protestors against the Syrian regime.

As a follower of Syrian affairs, and fellow Swedish citizen, I decided to track Issa down and ask him a few questions. After some initial complications I managed to acquire his mobile phone number; what follows is an excerpt from a telephone interview in which Issa discusses the organization of the opposition, the recurrent efforts by the regime to discredit his name, and the imperatives and strategies of the opposition network.

Issa, who is called “the Imam” by members of the Eskilstuna Mosque congregation because of his knowledge of Islam, is currently studying for a PhD in Innovation and Product Design at Mälardalen University and is active in the NGO Sweden’s Young Muslims. He was born “in an Arab country” (he does not want to tell me which) and moved with his family to Sweden at a young age.

Is it correct that you are the administrator of the Facebook page Syrian Revolution 2011?

I’m the spokesperson of network that consists of at least 250.000 members and in which the Facebook is one part. We preside over 7-8 different social networking outlets.

Do you know anything about the nationalities of the members of the Facebook page?

We cannot know exactly where people are coming from because the people in Syria log in through “proxy servers” which means that it might look like they are in South Africa when they are in fact in Syria. We have analyzed the IP addresses of our users and about 35% are Syrian residing in Syria, 50% are from the Syrian Diaspora around the world and the remaining 15% are other Arabs in other Arab countries.  [Joshua writes: Of my 108 friends who have joined Syria Revolution 2011, 18 are none-Arab US citizens.]

The Syrian Revolution 2011 has been called the most “influential” in the mobilization of the anti-regime supporters. Would you agree?

We keep a wide focus. The Facebook page is indeed the most influential but it is only the multimedia section of the wider activities of the network which also consists of people on the ground in Syria. We guide young people down there. When we called for a Friday demonstration, people take to the streets – everyone follows. We determine the dates of the demonstrations with the help of people on the ground.

What does the internal organization of the network look like? Who is pulling the strings?

From the very beginning we have worked together in a democratic manner. We have different committees and different departments dealing with different aspects of our activities. I work with the multimedia part. The Facebook page is run by around 10 members while about 350 people are working in the network, around 250 in Syria and 100 around the world. We have people down there filming, collecting information on deaths, etc. Our business is not just about organizing the protests, but also to act as an information platform – a source – where media, such as Al-Jazeera, BBC, CNN, Al-Arabiya can retrieve information.

How has your activism affected your own situation? You risk never to able to return to Syria, right?

As an activist, I have had many problems with the regime. They have named my name on television several times, they say that I’m no longer a Syrian, that I have betrayed my country. They have phoned me and sent letters saying that they know where I live, what my wife and my son’s names are. But all that will not prevent me and my brothers to stop demonstrating. I’m not afraid, I’m sure that what we do will help our country and our children in the future. They say I belong to groups that I don’t, that I’m a Salafi and what not. We are tired of these lies, the kind of lies we’ve been hearing for 48 years. I’m just a Muslim, that’s all. My father was himself a Syrian activist and, therefore, our family was thrown out of the country 35 years ago.

How do you see the situation unfolding?

Everyone is sad at the moment, everyone is angry. When you see your Mom or Dad, brother or daughter getting killed, frustration will mount. We want the regime to listen to the people; we want elections and new solutions. People down there are positive and determined. They will go out on the street again and again until the government listens to their demands. Before, you were afraid to say what you wanted, afraid to tell the truth, now the barrier of fear has been crossed. We are happy that after 48 years of tyranny and injustice, people have had enough, they have woken up. First it was mostly students and young people but now old people, women, housewives, Christians, Muslims – everyone wants change.

*Adam Almkvist is a freelance journalist and as a project assistant for the Syria Research Project at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University, Sweden

Comments (124)


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101. N.Z. said:

It does not really matters whether RM had consulted w/jr. or not. The interview depicts a mafia that is ready to unleash its power against its peaceful citizen, the moment they feel the slightest threat.

Just listened to Professor Landis and Anthony Shadid interview with Jim Lehrer on WNED. The Latest On Syria.

http://www.wnyc.org/popup_player/#

I agree with Landis, and I truly think this regime is digging its grave sole-handedly.

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May 12th, 2011, 12:17 pm

 

102. atassi said:

Norman,

I am sure your remember from video above, Arbeen church Homs !! .. Allah Yerhamou .. I know his family and many of the Nakror’s
why-discuss…
Not enough words can descriptive of this Inhumane regime

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May 12th, 2011, 12:24 pm

 

103. why-discuss said:

N.Z
#96
Thanks, its a very thorough discussion, recommended to all SC commenters, (I corrected the link and it is not Jim Lehrer, but Bryan Lehrer)

My understanding is that the bottom line of the interview is that only the economy and the economical sanctions from the international community are the serious long term threat, otherwise on short term, the army, the majority of the Syrians are supporting or tolerating the crackdown.

http://www.wnyc.org/shows/bl/2011/may/12/

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May 12th, 2011, 12:47 pm

 

104. N.Z. said:

WD,

You seem to understand your bias only.

This regime is a sectarian one that is controlled by the Allawites elite.

This elite built the country of 22 million on nepotism. They are doomed to a free fall like the ones before.

It is harder in the case of Syria, but nothing is far fetched.

When you talk about the Salafis and MB, you should keep perspective, and ask for a shared power governance of a country we all call ours.

Not one sect is above the other, we are all equal when the rule of law prevails, not the rule of the barbaric elite.

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May 12th, 2011, 1:41 pm

 

105. Nour said:

The people that keep arguing that this regime is sectarian have no idea what sectarianism is. This regime, in the way it holds power, is a mere reflection of our unfortunate social reality. In order to maintain control, they can only surround themselves with people they trust, who happen to be from their own clan, which happens to be Alawi. In that way, they are a reflection of the sectarian and clannish condition of our society. However, the regime is NOT sectarian in its view of Syrian society or of the concept of citizenship in the national state. The regime does not differentiate, in its treatment, between Alawis, Christians, Sunnis, Druze, etc. Alawis are not afforded benefits that others are not and they are not treated as a different class of citizens than members of other sects. Salafis and Islamists, on the other hand, are highly sectarian in their very view of society and the concept of the state. They believe that they, as a majority sect, should have the right to impose a Sunni Islamist state on the other “minorities” who should accept the fact that they should come under their understanding of majority rule. They differentiate between different citizens, as they believe that citizenship should be based on an individual’s religious background, not their national one. In fact, if there are any sectarian aspects of the current Syrian states, they are those laws and constitutional provisions that were implemented in order to appease the Islamists.

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May 12th, 2011, 1:52 pm

 

106. norman said:

Well Said , Nour.

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May 12th, 2011, 2:11 pm

 

107. Atassi said:

Well said what.. the bottom line to what Noure said, The Assad is an Alwai controlled, Mafia type Family .. That is it..!!! Stop the BS about ” In order to maintain control, they can only surround themselves with people they trust, who happen to be from their own clan, which happens to be Alawi.”…
We will not buy it…

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May 12th, 2011, 2:24 pm

 

108. N.Z. said:

Ironically, they are dealing and trumping with the same card. The sectarian one. Syria is not a sectarian society, the regime/mafia is.

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May 12th, 2011, 2:35 pm

 

109. edward said:

Wife of the former leader of the Democratic Party in Syria was thrown out of the window from 8 stories high…

http://eimana.tumblr.com/post/5422524071/yesterday-my-uncle-shiblys-wife-amal-was-found

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May 12th, 2011, 2:42 pm

 

110. norman said:

Atassi,
Who are (( WE )) The homsies, You and I., I do not think we have a say.
Nakror, from what i heard from Syria , died of a stray bullet, the origin not known.

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May 12th, 2011, 2:43 pm

 

111. Mina said:

##107-108
Can you give ONE exemple of an Arab or Muslim-majority country governement that has such a diversity of people represented in its higher officials and gov ministries? Alawi, Ismaili, Sunni, Christians are all there.

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May 12th, 2011, 2:50 pm

 

112. NK said:

Mina

Umm, Lebanon (even though their system is eff’ed up!) ?

Honestly though, I don’t understand what does that have to do with anything. Before the 1963 coup, Syria did have a secular system, no ?. Plus, just because the Arab countries have been governed by dictators for decades DOES NOT make it normal nor optimal to have a dictatorship in any of them, dictatorships are bad regardless of how they portray themselves. Not to mention that all those officials representing all sects and religions of the Syrian society are in fact completely powerless and a Sergeant in Mukhabarat have the authority to pull any of them from his hair and throw him in a cell never to be seen again!. The Syrian regime is indeed not sectarian, but to suggest that the royal family shares its power with others is deceiving.

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May 12th, 2011, 3:22 pm

 

113. N.Z. said:

The Syrian regime is actually divisive, however, the Syrians are not. They are nationalists, first and foremost. They are survival and non-violent.

The regime is showing its true colour in this pivotal time of Arab awakening.

This mafia have a liability on their shoulder, this mafia and their cronies must separate themselves from the Alawites who are part and parcel of the Syrian fabric, and whom percentage wise had suffered no less than the majority.

Other wise I fully agree with NK.

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May 12th, 2011, 4:03 pm

 

114. Solitarius said:

I really really hate to be that guy.. and I’m not sure exactly what kind of a life Mr. Nakror led, but Christians of Homs know what, at least, the famous of the Nakror family do.. they are, and again I’m sorry to resort to this kind of talk when a man just lost his life, but they are the scumbags of the Christians of Homs and they deal drugs and they are the only of few families that are known to carry guns regularly (like also Naddour and Sarah). Not so long ago a competing gangster climbed into their famous Arabic home and shot dead one of them Nakror brothers, and an innocent passer by on a bike was shot dead, probably in an exchange of fire. I remember passing by their mysterious large walled Arabic home everyday when I was back in elementary school. They used to have a large beautiful German shepherd at the door that scared the hell out of me once. All in all, I don’t want to say about Mr. Nakror what I don’t know.. but it’s not very hard for me to verify this information with one little email. All likelyhood, given the nature of the reputation of this family name, is that he might have been killed in a regular gang operation or by the government for the same reasons (but I doubt they would want to assassinate him at this moment and risk this kind of media attention)

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May 12th, 2011, 4:21 pm

 

115. why-discuss said:

N.Z

Now what? All analysts are unanimous: The question is not if the regime is sectarian or not or if it will survive or not (it seems that most Syrians and foreign countries want it to survive for the sake of stability) the question is how long would it survive in the aftermath of the crisis.
Shadid and Landis agree that the economy will fall in a very serious crisis because of lack of investments and that may bring the fall of the regime.
What do think?
I wonder if Russia, China and many Gulf countries who dislike Qatar and Saudi Arabia ( i.e Kuwait and the emirates) will not put their weight to save Syria’s economy. Syria’s economy went through hell during the Hariri crisis and it survives, so nothing is said.
The final outlook is that not only the regime may survive but may become even get stronger if the sanctions don’t bite enough (they usually don’t), What do you think?

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May 12th, 2011, 4:23 pm

 

116. Louai said:

i like his older video when he thought he lost the facebook page he was more funny 🙂

he said ‘We cannot know exactly where people are coming from because the people in Syria log in through “proxy servers” which means that it might look like they are in South Africa when they are in fact in Syria’

then
‘We have analyzed the IP addresses of our users and about 35% are Syrian residing in Syria, 50% are from the Syrian Diaspora around the world and the remaining 15% are other Arabs in other Arab countries.’

the IP shows location ,it dose not show nationality ?i am correct ?

in all the other pages the average number of users is 10000 -20000 usesr ,when i joined them i got a lot of messages to join ALL other pages ,and i also received an email asking me to create 10 or 15 fake account (to avoid MUkhabarat)

250000 member!! the littel boy knows that the vvast majority of that page are arabs not Syrians even that every one has 15 fake accounts .

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May 12th, 2011, 5:39 pm

 

117. Alex said:

A few comments about Mr. Fidaaldin Al-Sayed Issa, the administrator of the Facebook page, the most influential social networking tool in the mobilization of protestors against the Syrian regime.

He is obviously a passionate, dedicated and capable individual. Despite living in a small city in Sweden, he has big dreams about liberating the Aqsa Mosque, Palestine and Syria.

But I would like to share some of his posts with you and explain why I am finding him (and his mentors) to be not exactly an upgrade to the mentality of those in power that he would like to liberate Syria from as he is spending his day trying to motivate the people in Aleppo and Damascus to join his revolution in order to gain freedom and to expose the lies and stupidity of the Syrian regime.

1) From the video that Joshua linked above we can see that Mr. Issa seems to be not that different from other,standard, fundamentalists who define their honor in terms of protecting their women. To motivate his listeners to want to liberate the Aqsa Mosque, he had to ask his audience if they accept it if their women were violated.

2) In the following post on their page the day before a few million Syrians demonstrated across the country FOR President Assad, Mr. Issa posted the following:

“for all those who will be taking part in the Pro-Bashar demonstration tomorrow … we know that you are WITHOUT ANY EXCEPTION forced to take part and that you have received threats from Syrian security. Therefore, we call on you to flip, at noon, (from pro Assad slogans to pro revolution slogans). If that does not work at noon, try again at 1pm then at 2pm … When all of you do that then security forces will lose control and we might have our million demonstrators tomorrow!!! … be confident that the Syrian people will burst in anger at Assad instead of supporting him.”

The result? …. Millions demonstrated for Assad, no one paid attention to to Mr. Issa’s plan.

Wasn’t that delusional? … is this how mature the highly structured Syrian revolution network is?

3) The following post says “99.99% of the Syrian people are not with the regime .. we hope you will participate next Friday to join millions across the country God willing”

Again, delusional. If they don’t like Bashar’s 97% popularity, they should not claim 99.99% popularity .. at least the Syrian regime got over confident after decades in power. These people surpassed them in a few weeks.

4) The first two weeks they posted clips from many demonstrations that chanted implied anti Shia (and anti Alawite) slogans. If they learned later to stop doing that, surely they did not get the sectarian feelings out of their minds that fast, it is just that they learned that for now it is not politically correct to sound sectarian.

5) During their first few days they posted many stories that seemed very unrealistic in order to motivate people to start demonstrating.

6) “the employees of the Damascus stock exchange (10 or 20?) were threatened to take part in the Pro Assad demonstrations (where millions showed up) or else they will be killed!

7) For over a month now, every day they tried to use guilt, or insults, to get the men of Aleppo to demonstrate. If they feel that non-stop manipulating people into demonstrating is legitimate then they should not complain about the regime’s official media tactics in scaring people from the revolution’s ills through generalization (they are all armed gangs).

Here is an example:

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May 12th, 2011, 8:30 pm

 
 

119. Louai said:

ALEX

thank you , very good job but we can add thousands of his comments to prove that those people will use any thing to prove popularity ,i never linked the killing of Mahe Naqroor(the christian man) to any political view ,i honestly thought it was a normal murder till i saw the revolution website mourning him …those people have no boundaries at all,they can easily kill a christian man and use his blood in their fabrications ,but it shows how much they are detached of the reality about Christians and the vast majority of the Syrian people

Didn’t Fedaa al sayed posted that he is finally will reveal his identity and he wrote an emotional post stating that he was a girl who he parents forced out of the country in the 80s !!! i wish i did a print screen to that one as it was a desperate try to wear a mask and attract female supporters .

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May 13th, 2011, 7:54 am

 

120. Alex said:

Louai, I missed that interesting post. The posts I have been screen-capturing (especially from the first week) were really not impressive. Especially the exaggerations and the dramatic tone and the over confidence in predicting a million demonstrators each Friday …

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May 13th, 2011, 1:27 pm

 

121. Dodz said:

Mohamed Essam Barakat
Dear Mr Adam….all the talk about revolutions whether it is in Syria, Egypt, tunisia or any where else in the arab world … the truth it is about fanatic muslims: brotherhood, salafyeen or the same and all they want is not democracy as they claim but to rule this part of the world under the name of DEMOCRACY, all what you need to look at is what is going on in the streets of Egypt and Tunisia …. etc … the burning of churches in Cairo and alexandria is all done by those in the same category of Mr Fidaaldin …. this man and his group are extremist and their aim is that Islamic rule for all the Muslim world and not DEMOCRACY.
There in no such word of democracy in the muslim world those who rules are either with or against it … and if you have a free opinion then you are dead …. they don’t compromise ….
PLEASE don’t fall for what they are declaring and need to read the local papers of egypt, tunisia … to know what is going on exactly … on you tube there is a salafist who said that they want to burn all the churches …. is that DEMOCRACY ?????

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May 13th, 2011, 4:45 pm

 

122. Alex said:

Dodz

Most Syrian Muslims have nothing to do with extremists or with their violent nature.

The problem is that a small number of extremists (Salafists, the more unreasonable of the Brotherhood types) can destabilize a country.

Salafists in Egypt are estimated at 10%

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May 13th, 2011, 11:29 pm

 

123. Rezk said:

This man, Fida Al-Sayed is a criminal against Syrian people. I am a Syrian and most of the Syrians I’ve spoken to wish that this man knows the amount of harm he is doing to them. Syrians and all foreigners who visited Syria know that they have enjoyed peaceful and beautiful life in Syria ever since Hafiz Assad became president. Development in Syria is going in the right direction, not all freedoms are available in Syria to be honest, the freedom of killing each other just because they belong to a different minority group does not exist in Syria. The freedom of majority dictatorship is not available in Syria. The government consists of people from different religions and sects and life in Syria is secure to all Syrians and non-Syrians except for those who try and change this secure environment. Fidaa is a criminal for mobilizing armies against the Syrians’ will although he is not even Syrians and have never been to Syria. Those who call for Jihad has no place in Syria and they are not welcomed. Europe and the US can take them under political correctness and “humanitarian” prospects (which will only harm them badly in few more years time – although it already started in London, Newyork and other places).

I invite all readers who would like to support Syrians, to keep supporting them but by knowing what we as Syrians really want.

We have all real freedoms in Syria, more of political freedoms will come with time and after we complete securing all other essential grounds for our beloved Syria.

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May 18th, 2011, 11:08 am

 

124. BDOUR said:

I would like to say that this person who is swedish and islamic extremist suddenly comes now to protect syrians from misery and terror.Ask him what he knows about syrians?and who accepts him in syria .all of us hate him.his page in facebook 90% not syrians.donot come to sell us your democacy and freedom through false videos and false calss.you are responsible for every drop of blood in syria.

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May 23rd, 2011, 3:21 am

 

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