Syria: Campaign to boycott telecom companies and demand lower rates begins

Image by donknuth

Image by donknuth

In a extremely connected world, Syria is still lagging behind; The Internet was introduced to the public close to the year 2000 and currently the penetration rate stands at about 17%. The vast majority of users, however, still endure the screeches of a dial-up modem due to the country's weak broadband infrastructure. Cellular networks were licensed to operate in Syria in 2001 and ever since day one, the media echoed the customers’ discontent with service rates. The state of the struggling Syrian telecoms sector is largely attributed to the US embargo on the country and corruption within the Syrian telecom bodies.

Syrian bloggers decided they have had enough with the current prices Syrian mobile carriers – Syriatel and MTN Syria) – and the services they offer. The reaction came in the form of a campaign to boycott of mobile carriers on June 1st which was picked up [ar] by the local media.

The campaigners sent out the following message:

قاطعوا الموبايل في واحد حزيران 2009
ساهموا معنا في الحملة الوطنية للضغط على شركات الاتصالات لتخفيض الفواتير أسوةً بالبلدان المجاورة […] ساهم معنا وانشر الخبر ليصل إلى أكبر عدد ممكن

Boycott Mobile Phones on 1 June 2009
Contribute with us in the national campaign to lobby the telecom companies to lower the bills to become similar to neighboring countries […] Contribute with us and spread the news to reach as many people as possible

Anarchist Queer weighed in saying [ar]:

بالنسبة لي فأنا أقاطع الشركات ليس فقط لأجورها العالية وإنّما أيضاً
لأساليب النصب والاحتيال التي يتبعونها مع زبائنهم, وكنت شاهدة على ذلك
خلال فترة تدريبي في شركة إم تي إن قبل أن أقدم استقالتي.
As for me, I boycott the companies not only for their high tariffs, but also for the fraudulent tactics they use on their costumers, I was witness to it during my training period at MTN company before I resigned.

And on Twitter Salamm said[ar]:

"I Like the Mobile Boycott campaign, and I'm spreading it around (offline) it would've been better if it were for more than one day.

"I Like this Mobile Boycott campaign, and I'm spreading it around (offline) it would've been better if it were for more than one day."

Finally, Somar from Syria Talk said in a reply to a comment:

الموضوع الأهم أنو يحس الشباب أنو نحنا كلنا ايد وحدة..بغض النظر عن الدين والطوائف…لازم نجتمع لنغيير الوضع نحو الأفضل…طالما الأفضل هوي لنا جميعاً
The most important thing is that the youth feel that we're all one hand, regardless of religion or sects, we must unite to improve our situations.. since the improvement is for us all.


  • The Multitude Group proposed a very effective technique for boycott that requires ubiquitous media recorders, like cell phone cameras or normal digital cameras, the use of social networking websites, and various electronic means of communication. In addition to creating a consumer aversion for a specific product category, this technique’s success relies on creating a conflict between the interests of the targeted entity and the distributors of its output. We call it viral labeling.

    The viral labeling is the first boycott technique that successfully combines online (virtual) and real life activities. To our knowledge, it is also the first scheme that effectively uses the distributor and reinforces the position of competitors.

    If you decide to use viral labeling please send us feedback, as we will continue to improve this method.

    All OF US

  • […] this new Syrian-born on-line activism. Earlier this year, Hassan al-Zarki and four of his friends launched a campaign against expensive cell phone rates. Hasan   managed to gather 5,630 electronic signatures for a petition regarding the cost of […]

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.