Among the first acts of victorious revolutionaries is to tear down signs bearing the names of the regimes they toppled.
In Syria, the opposition is not waiting for President Bashar al-Assad to fall.
Anti-government activists in recent weeks have used a Google crowdsourcing program, Map Maker, to rename key streets, bridges and boulevards after their revolutionary heroes, according to opposition figures and the Syrian government. The idea, activists say, has been to expunge the vestiges of the Assad family’s 40-year rule and to commemorate protesters who have fallen over the course of an 11-month-old uprising.
“They have the right to be remembered by the Syrians,” said Rwadan Ziadeh, a representative of the Syrian National Council, an exile group. “They are making new history.”
On Google, names have changed over time as the maps are updated with user proposals, which are approved by other users as well as Google editors. The names on Google Maps are sometimes different from those on Google Earth. The overall result, however, has been a patchwork of Assad-era and revolutionary names, sometimes side by side.
The campaign started a couple of months ago on Facebook, said Rami Nakhle, another exile opposition figure, and it has quickly gained the Syrian government’s attention. On Monday [the 13th], the country’s envoy to the United Nations, Bashar al-Jafaari, digressed from a speech before the General Assembly to accuse Google of participating in a foreign plot to meddle in Syria’s internal affairs and undermine its leader.