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Yazan Joumaa Image Credit:

Damascus: In the early hours of July 31 — the first hours of the Eid Al Adha holiday — a serious crime struck in central Damascus. Yazan Joumaa, 33, was shot dead next to his home in Al Mazraa, a famous residential neighbourhood of the Syrian capital. He was killed by a security guard, although it remains unclear whether the latter was part of an official checkpoint or stationed at the gates of government officials living in the area.

Eyewitness told Gulf News that Joumaa had “quarreled” with the guards, “probably over parking rights.”

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The case immediately snowballed into a public affair within pro-government circles, where people are fed up with roadblocks, unsolicited arms, and intimidation at the hands of security officials stationed at the homes of governments officials.

Since the battles of the Damascus countryside ended in 2018 many of those roadblocks and checkpoints have been taken down, but a handful remain in central Damascus, notably in Al Mazraa, near Military Intelligence.

“It couldn’t have come at a worse time,” said Mustafa Hekmat, a resident of Al Mazraa. “Prices are going through the roof. COVID-19 is everywhere. The is suffocating us economically. People can’t find jobs. And then this!”

The Syrian pound has devaluated sharply in recent months, reaching an all time low of 3,000SP to the US dollar. Just last September, it stood at 600 SP. Meanwhile, the already strained health sector is struggling to cope with the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, which stood at 809 on Sunday, the last day of Eid.

A hashtag is going viral on social media that reads: “#We are all the martyr Yazan Joumaa.” Many are demanding execution of the security official, citing the famous proverb: “An eye for an eye.”

Hours after the crime took place, Joumaa’s mother Hala Al Mughrabi, 61, came out with a Facebook appeal to President Bashar Al Assad, demanding justice for her only son. She wrote: “I am waiting.”

Al Mughrabi added: “There will be no condolence until I find out who killed my son. I want justice for his blood and for all young men who died unjustly.” She later came out with another statement, saying that the security guard has been arrested and is currently standing trial before a military court, although his identity is yet to be identified.

Al Maghrabi is a former 1980 Olympic champion in weightlifting, while the slain young man’s father is a Olympic trainer.