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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Syria arrests national soccer team goalkeeper for participation in anti-government protests

Arrested Syrian goalkeeper Mosab Balhous (Source: Facebook)


Syrian security forces have arrested national soccer goalkeeper Mosab Balhous on charges of sheltering armed gangs and possessing suspicious amounts of money, according to Saudi news channel Al Arabiya.

In a YouTube video, Mr. Balhos’ colleague, Abd Albasit Al Sarut, goalkeeper of the Syrian U-23 men’s national team, said the regime of Syrian president Bashar al Assad had accused Mr. Bahous of participating in anti-government protests and wanting to establish an Islamic emirate in the city of Homs.

Supporters of Mr. Balhous, a goalkeeper for Syrian top division team Al Karamah, and pro-democracy activists have established a Facebook page to demand the goalkeeper’s release.

In an earlier video on YouTube, Mr. Sarut asserted last month that the Syrian regime was levelling similar accusations against him, charging that he was a Salafi, a fundamentalist who seeks to emulate life as it was in the time of the Prophet Mohammed, and was seeking to turn Syria into a Salafi state.

“This accusation was made when we took to the streets, demanding freedom for the Syrian people. I am now wanted by the security agencies, which are trying to arrest me. I declare, in sound mind and of my own volition, that we, the free Syrian people, will not back down until our one and only demand is met: the toppling of the regime. We are not Salafis, and there is no truth to the regime's claims about armed groups or a Salafi emirate,” Mr. Sarut said.

In an apparent reference to a series of sectarian tit for tat killings in Homs in recent weeks, Mr. Sarut said that Syrians had “been living as brothers for centuries under the free skies of this nation, despite our different creeds. I hold the Syrian regime responsible for any possible harm done to me.”

Some 1,700 people are believed to have been killed in five months of anti-government protests which Mr. Assad has unsuccessfully sought to quell with the use of his armed forces.

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