The oppression in Syria continues.

Men, women and children continue to be murdered. Homes, clinics, hospitals and schools continue to be bombed. The sanctity and honor of Muslims continue to be violated.

Families continue to be butchered by militia, illegally detained and tortured. Their wounded continue to die slow deaths and their dead continue to remain unburied.

Over 100,000 have been martyred. Hundreds every day, murdered in cold blood, continue to add to this tally.

Whatever one can say to describe the suffering that has taken place, it has been more than this.

Is the Ummah of Muhammad (peace upon him) not like a single body? Should we not feel what they feel? Let’s give a little of what we have for the sake of Allah.

The fear of Allah ‘azza wajjal should drive us to action. We cannot remain idle when our widowed mothers and orphaned children are being butchered and, surrounded by the enemies of Allah.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

“A believers shade on the Day of Judgement will be his charity”

Madaya: residents of besieged Syrian town say they are being starved to death
Activists in the mountain town, where 30,000 people have been trapped since July, speak of families eating leaves to survive
By Emma Graham-Harrison

“Residents of a Syrian town a few dozen miles from the capital, Damascus, say they are dying of starvation as a result of a months-long siege by forces loyal to the government of Bashar al-Assad.

Families are eating leaves, grasses and water flavoured with spices in the town of Madaya, where rice is sold by the gram because a kilogram costs as much as $250 (£170). Some have killed and eaten their pets.

“People are dying in slow motion,” said Louay, a social worker from the town told the Guardian in a phone interview, his voice weakened by months of abject hunger. “We had some flowers growing in pots at home. Yesterday, we picked the petals and ate them, but they were bitter, awful.”

He sent pictures of emaciated bodies of several elderly men, recent casualties of the starvation. He had not taken the pictures himself, but said the men were well known in the town.

“We used to say nobody could ever die from hunger, but we have seen people actually die of hunger.”

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The Syrian Foreign Minister says that as of August 25, 2013, the United States has killed 2,548 people in drone attacks since 2005, based on “clear and compelling evidence.” Syria says it is considering a “limited, narrow act” in the form of a punitive military strike against the US, stating that “failure to respond would put Syrian credibility at stake.”

Is Facebook Censoring the Syrian Opposition?

Last December, a woman from the Syrian community in Toronto reached out to me for help after a Syrian opposition Facebook page, for which she was an administrator, was expunged from the internet. She told me that Facebook had deleted the page, called Likes for Syria, in mid December, by which time it had garnered more than 80,000 “likes." Several Syrian Canadians had organized the page shortly after the revolution in Syria began, back in 2011, and used it as a tool for posting news stories about the crisis, spreading messages of hope, and creating awareness in the Western world—something that many feel is desperately needed.

“We feel like our freedom of speech has been totally taken away,” said Faris Alshawaf, another administrator for Likes for Syria. “We have a right to talk about what is happening.” Facebook had removed the page once before but quickly republished it after administrators made an appeal. Just days later, Facebook deleted the page a second time.  

Yet Likes for Syria is hardly alone. In the past six months, Facebook has deleted dozens of opposition pages—including one started by Syrian youth roughly a month before the revolution begun—because they allegedly violate the company's Community Standardspolicy and Terms of Use agreement. Two weeks ago, the Atlantic reported that Facebook opposition pages were disappearing. While I was doing more research about the issue, Facebook took down another page. This time, it erased the Syrian Coalition page, a move that shocked administrators and caused panic in the Syrian community, as it was seen as one of the most important and safe pages of the revolution. People from the Syrian community reached out to me again and sent me screenshot images of what had been reported to Facebook. It seemed clear that many of the images would have been very hard to take offense to and were not violent in nature.   



INTERVIEW: Ala'a Basatneh, the 22-year-old student who uses social media to help Syrian rebels from her bedroom in Chicago.

Ala’a Basatneh: I decided to help first when I saw the group of children that decided to write “We want to topple the regime” on their school walls. Seeing that they were tortured, I believe one was killed… to me that was not an OK thing to learn about happening in the country where I was born. I decided to reach out for activists, and this is exactly what I told them: “I’m willing to help you with everything and anything I can do for you guys to keep going.”

Could you walk me through a typical day in the life of Ala’a Basatneh? The kind of things you do on social media, and how you balance college with your work as an activist?

Basatneh: It’s really not balanced. I’m on my phone 24/7, on my laptop whenever I can. In my classes, at work, at home, all the time because of the time difference and because of how important it is to keep in contact with the activists on the ground. It’s not that it’s six hours online and then the rest of the time I’m not; it’s that I’m constantly online. When the movie was shot, I would get Skype calls at 4 in the morning from activists in Syria, asking me to translate banners that they would be carrying in their protests, so it can end up on international media, on CNN and BBC.