Defiant Syrians are winning a virtual battle over President Bashar al-Assad. They're eradicating the name Assad from streets and bridges, and renaming them in honor of fallen Syrian rebels—with the help of Google crowdsourcing program Map Maker. The map modifications are believed to be the first time a national movement has used such a technique to make a political point, say observers. Revolutionaries "have the right to be remembered by the Syrians,” said Rwadan Ziadeh of the Syrian National Council exile group. “They are making new history.” Earlier this week, Syria's UN envoy suddenly accused Google in the middle of a General Assembly speech of participating in a foreign plot to meddle in Syria’s internal affairs and undermine Assad, reports the Washington Post.
“What does Google have to do with the names of streets in small Syrian cities and villages?” he angrily asked, referring to changed street names in Homs and Idlib. “This is a flagrant violation of the UN, the resolution of the Arab League pertaining to the standardization of the geographic nomenclature.” Several street signs have actually been torn down and replaced. Activists in Daraya ripped down a sign honoring Assad's older brother to replace it with one honoring a young tailor sympathetic to the uprising who handed out flowers to Syrian troops. Google was rather noncommittal when contacted by the Post for comment. "Maps are constantly changing along with the real world, so we’ll continue to review data and make changes as new information becomes available," said a company spokeswoman. (Read more Syria stories.)