The Lebanese newspaper Al-Bana’a reports that, according to sources close to the decision-making circles in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad will soon announce the amendment of Article 8 of the Constitution, which limits the country’s leadership to the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, so as to include all parties affiliated with the Progressive National Front in the leadership, and the opening of this front to include new parties, broadening participation in the leadership of the country. However, the sources stressed the commitment of all the fundamental forces, beginning with President Assad himself, to not allow the establishment of religious parties in Syria, and to preserve the constitutional clause which requires all political forces and parties to be secular, in order to prevent the exploitation of religion and the use of it in the political game and the tearing up of the fabric of national unity of Syria.
The original article مصدر صحفي : الرئيس الأسد سيعلن قريباً تعديل المادة 8 من الدستور….عدم السماح بقيام الأحزاب الدينية في سورية was published in SyriaNow on 5 May 2011. Cf. “Father Elias Debii raises his hands to heaven and prays for divine protection for embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is facing unprecedented protests against his regime. His prayer at the Dormition of Our Lady Greek Catholic cathedral in Old Damascus rings loud in the ears of many members of his congregation, who oppose an end to the regime of Assad even if they long for more freedoms. ‘We ask God to protect our president, our government and our people from all ordeals and crises,’ Debii said on a recent Sunday to 250 worshippers gathered in church. Christians represent 7.5 per cent of Syria’s multi-confessional population of 20 million Arabs and Kurds” (AFP, “Syria’s Christians Want Change, But Not Fall of Regime,” Ahram Online, 4 May 2011); “Over the past week, opposition figures said, Butheina Shaaban, an adviser to Mr. Assad, has reached out to some dissidents. One of them, Michel Kilo, said he met with Ms. Shaaban on Thursday and insisted that a dialogue could begin only after an end to the crackdown, recognition of the right to protest and agreement on a political solution to the crisis. ‘I didn’t go to hold dialogue,’ he said. ‘I went to express my opinion'” (Anthony Shadid, “Protests Across Syria Despite Military Presence,” New York Times, 6 May 2011).
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