Syrian refugee 'felt oppressed' by Stop the War protest

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Media captionThe video of Hassan Akkad at the demonstration was shared widely online

A Syrian refugee who was shouted down at a Stop the War demonstration says he "felt oppressed" by the group.

The protest in Downing Street on Friday evening was against the American attack on a Syrian airbase.

Hassan Akkad, from Damascus, asked why the group was not protesting against President Assad instead, but was drowned out.

He said: "British people not letting a Syrian say something about Syria in a protest about Syria. It's mad."

'Baseless slogans'

The 29-year-old said he had wanted to be the voice of Syrians who were still in the country but left the protest "livid".

Stop the War was founded in September 2001, after US president George W Bush announced a "war on terror".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The group called an emergency protest on Friday against Trump's missile attack on Syria

After a video of the encounter was shared widely online, Mr Akkad told the BBC: "I didn't see them protesting against the chemical attacks, I didn't see them protesting against Putin bombing Syria for the last two years.

"I wanted to go to that protest and I wanted to observe.

"I went to the protest and I saw a group of 30 people with placards, not a single mention of Assad.

"All the placards are against Donald Trump and they're repeating baseless slogans with their megaphones."

He added: "I went to them respectfully and said, 'Listen I'm a Syrian refugee who lives here and I have an opinion, it's a protest about Syria I want to say something'.

"They didn't even address me, they ignored my existence. With their megaphones they went louder and louder and the organisers told them to carry on."

Mr Akkad left Syria in September 2015. He says he was imprisoned twice and tortured for protesting against Assad's regime.

He left his family there and made an 87-day journey to the UK.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Protesters said people must rally against more military intervention and demand an end to the fighting

Mr Akkad said when the US launched its attack on a Syrian airbase, it did so with "great accuracy" whereas, he said, Assad's bombers "literally shred people down".

"They [President's Assad's forces] have killed hundreds of thousands, we've lost our home, we were displaced, we were made refugees all because of the Assad regime," he said.

"People were tortured to death, chemical attacks, all sort of attacks barrel bombs shredding children and flattening down entire cities.

"So bombing Assad's war machines is in our favour because that means less Syrian civilians will die, less children will die."

After the group would not let Mr Akkad speak, he said: "I felt oppressed, it was like being back in Syria. Like how the Syrian police used to mute our voices.

"I'm not going to be silenced I have the right to say what I believe.

"I left the protest. I was angry, I was livid."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Stop the War said Trump's attack was an "utterly​​ irresponsible act"

A spokeswoman for Stop the War said: "This was an anti-war protest. There are Syrians who support Western bombing of Syria, and Syrians who oppose it.

"Those who support it have protests calling for intervention. This was an anti-intervention event. Of course his voice can and should be heard.

"But it would be strange if Stop the War gave a platform to people who supported bombing."

Video courtesy of Tehmoor Khalid.

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