English: President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
[...] [W]hen public protests broke out in 2011 over the collapsing economy, [Lukashenko] responded by having thousands arrested for whatever reason or no reason at all. Most of them, according to the Christian Science Monitor, "were fined heavily or jailed for up to 15 days on police court testimony that they were expressing a political opinion by clapping their hands." Activists and protesters there had adopted applause as a symbol of protest, which is brilliant because now that clapping has been associated with dissent, the regime reportedly has had to forbid it at its own events, such as traditional military parades, which must parade along silently. Authoritarian regimes rely heavily on forcing people to play along, and now forced applause is not an option.