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I met a couple of young Syrian guys last night over an Iftar meal and the topic of conversation inevitably turned to politics. One of them compared the Syrian uprising to the recent spat of mindless looting and rioting in London. He asked if it was the beginning of a revolution; were these the first signs of open protest against the British government? I laughed until I realised he was being sincere. No, I explained, they were just criminals causing chaos. They weren’t demanding anything, just availing themselves of high-end electronics.

One of these chaps, an 18 year old who has been protesting in Douma on a regular basis, interrupted me and remarked, quite astutely, that I sounded just like SANA. Being likened to the Syrian state media service, a factory of clumsy propaganda, was somewhat insulting but I got his point. The state media had said exactly the same things in reference to the protest movement in Syria: They’re not protestors with legitimate demands, just violent criminals. It’s easy to understand that for much of the Middle East, suspicious from years of state lies and propaganda, it would have been natural to assume that the media was lying.

Unfortunately, the BBC isn’t covering up a popular uprising emerging from the streets of Hackney. It’s just good, ol’ fashioned rioting.

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