This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011.
On 16th June, at the eve of another Friday of protests in Syria, Syrian State Television announced that 41-year-old businessman Rami Makhlouf will quit his businesses to take up charity work.
On Twitter, Nasser H. Al-Shaikh was the first to report the news quoting Al Arabiya news channel:
AlArabiya: Syrian businessman Ramy #Makhlouf gives up his properties to the state #Syria #Assad
In another tweet, he explained:
#Makhlouf is a cousin of President #Assad & according to FT he's thought to control up to 60% of #Syria's economy. http://is.gd/c9zF3v
Immediate reactions have followed.
RevolutionSyria, one of the main Twitter sources for Syrian revolution news, commented:
I would laugh if this wasn't so disgusting. #Makhlouf says he'll devote profits from his business to charity…. http://fb.me/TdWulPXB
Skepticism has also been manifested by tweep MagdyBasha123, who wrote:
#somebodytellmewhy #daddysays #wakemeup whn Rami #Makhlouf is prosecutd 4 corruption & not given red carpet trtmnt as #philanthrapist #SYRIA
Others have welcomed the decision but pointed that this is not enough to meet the protesters’ demands. Lasyrie tweeted:
Rami #Makhlouf, steals us and now wants to give us back our money, great, but stealer must be judged. #syriatel #syria #syria #liban
On Friday 17th the protesters, who have taken the streets of Syria all across the country as during every Friday for the past three months, have responded to Rami Makhlouf` decision to give up to his businesses.
On You Tube, user Rola8881 has uploaded a video allegedly shot in Zabadani area and which carries a banner which reads “A message to Rami Makhlouf from Zabadani in the Friday of Salah al Ali” (referring to the hero of Syrian resistance against the French to whom this Friday the 17th protests have been dedicated)
Makhklouf has been accused by the protesters of corruption and monopoly over every kind of businesses in Syria, from telecommunications to media to real estate. He has also been accused of direct involvement in the heavy crackdown and repression on the protesters. Rami's brother, Colonel Hafez Makhlouf, is the deputy director of the General Security Directorate and Intelligence chief of the Damascus branch.