This Interactive Infographic Shows The Depth Of The Syrian Resistance

Following an alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian military, the U.S. and Britain are gearing up for a possible missile strike on Syria against Bashar Assad’s military force. Meanwhile, one online network map wants to deepen your understanding of Syria.

Much of the media is simplistically categorizing the Syrian people into militarized loyalist or rebel camps. As this interactive map, shows, however, the actions and beliefs of Syrians cannot be delineated so easily. Created by the Syria Nonviolence Movement, the map presents and connects an immense number of organizations, local initiatives, and forms of media that are non-violently resisting the Assad regime.


Online tools like this network map are simple in form and drop-dead simple for programmers to build. This one uses the HTML5 Canvas element with help from SigmaJS, a simple library built specifically for such network graph visualizations. Thanks to the increasing popularity of infographics libraries like Sigma and general-purpose grapher D3, we’re seeing more single-purpose infographics like these pop up to help the public understand the true complexity of world events. It looks like the United States may intervene in Syria as soon as tomorrow, so before that happens, it can’t hurt to take a look at the depth of the Syrian resistance, enabled by new development tools.

The nonviolence map is broken up into clusters that represent formal groups, local councils, unions, specific days of protest, newspapers, the art world, and more. These categories are in some cases then broken down into subcategories like alternative cinema, art galleries, and human rights groups. Clicking on the end of the chain presents you with specific information about each node, giving you one tiny window into the world of Syrian opposition.

One example is the cluster of alternative films that have been produced by Syrians. Shown above is the node for a film by Bassel Shahade, a student at Syracuse University who was killed while making films in his homeland.

Another particularly rich segment of the map shows blue dots representing newspapers and magazines. Dissatisfied with state-run media, Syrians–youth especially–have taken to creating their own media outlets to tell their stories. Far from being shoddy amateur publications, some such as Souriatna (Our Syria), have developed into professional-looking weekly magazines.

The massive size of the cluster above should speak to the amount of local organizing Syrians are doing in their own neighborhoods. This group includes organizations like the coordinating committee for the town Kafr Anbel, which gained worldwide attention last year for their creative protest posters.

About the author

Jay is a freelance journalist, formerly a staff writer for Fast Company. He writes about technology, inequality, and the Middle East.