Saturday, September 04, 2010

PoliticsSyria: Religious Conservatives: Secular govt represses conservative Islamist movements

A major shift in policy has become belatedly apparent in Syria, under Pres. Bashar al-Assad.  The policy, while not altering Syria's foreign policy of alliance with Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon (terrorist orgs), the policy nevertheless seeks to stem the rising influence thru-out Syrian society of activist women who wear the face veil, wear it even as teachers in public school classrooms.  Altho the veiled women's movement holds its own secretive assemblies with female leaders preaching and community-building, the emancipatory side of their endeavours for fellow women and the expansion of their roles is countervailed by their subservience to the conservative Sunni Islamist male leadership -- speak of being unequally yoked.

Thus, the movement as a whole may be said to have contradictory features that will perhaps reveal themselves more dramatically in the future among Syria's conservative Islamists. Male and female, they are the vanguard of Sunni revitalization in recent years.  Syria is populated by a Sunni majority, while its governing elite belongs to the minority Alawite sect which has a stake in a secularist political philosophy -- an echo of Turkey appears in this particular dynamic between Sunnis and Alawite-sponsored Syrian secularism.

As the domestic Islamists became comfortable with their rising status, the Assad govt has clearly decided now to clamp down on what it feared coud squeeze secularists out of public life and government.

Kareem Fahim reports in New York Times, "Syria's solidarity with Islamists ends at home" (Sept3,2k10), regarding the significance of the shift.

In summary:  Syria is shifting to a secularist policy in domestic relations with conservative Islamists who are more active in society, with a strong contingent of women, even female teachers in public schools who insist on wearing their face-veils in the classrooms (not the Taliban burqa which veils the entire female body, but the niqba which veils only the face.  The govt has removed 1,000 of the veiled teachers from the classroom to administrative jobs, enforcing a veil-less teaching corps to interact directly with students.

-- Politicarp

PS:  Welcome back to our page editor, Owlb.  He's also refWr+t's General Editor for all 5 of our mainpages.

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