Curing ‘the clap’ with tear gas

Belarus is under serious threat from “the clap.” Its largest outbreak is in the capital of Minsk, but it’s spreading ever further into other cities throughout the country. President Alexander Lukashenko is taking desperate measures in fighting “the clap” using tear gas…

“The clap” in Belarus may be a mutated version that made its way from Thailand last year. The Belarusian strain of “the clap” is a bit more active than the infection that was once noticed in Asia.

By “the clap,” I’m not referring to the slang term for a venereal disease, but what I am referring to is a more or less silent type of protesting in Belarus against economic reforms and the situation as a whole in the country that could turn into one of those “colored revolutions” that have been noted in other post-Soviet states like Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan. (Just to clear things up, I was referring to Thailand’s “red shirt” movement that saw thousands just sitting silently in red shirts protesting against the government.)

A movement in Belarus, the Revolution through Social Networks, protests by clapping their hands and walking peacefully through the streets of large cities. They don’t carry any banners with pictures of a red slash through Lukashenko’s portrait, they’re not yelling any slogans for the government to step down, they’re not using bullhorns and gathering loud mobs on the street. They’re not saying a word, just clapping.

The protests are beginning to raise some eyebrows and seem to really be irking President Lukashenko. He’s so concerned about the clapping movement, that on Sunday, during his Independence Day speech in the center of Minsk, he passed instructions to the authorities that no one was allowed to applaud his remarks during his speech except WWII veterans and members of the government. No one else was allowed to clap no matter what he said. Odd, presidents usually like to be applauded when they say something in public. But then again, Lukashenko has a big enough ego, he doesn’t need applause.

The latest clapping protest was held on the country’s Independence Day and saw thousands of protestors making their way toward the main square, clapping as they approached. As soon as the protestors, infested with “the clap” came near the central square where Lukashenko was giving a non-responsive speech, police attempted to disperse the crowd and finally began firing tear gas at “the happy clappers.” This didn’t have much of an effect on those clapping, they continued clapping, not yelling any slogans against the police. The police detained hundreds of protestors, all the time under heavy applause.

On Monday, some 100 protestors were given jail sentences from five to fifteen days.

The protestors usually hold their clapping rallies on Wednesdays (Sunday was just an excellent holiday to bring Belarusians together).

“The clap” is seeming to gather momentum and could become an epidemic that could “bring the house down.”

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