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Two British citizens missing in Damascus

April 5th, 2009 · 7 Comments · Politics

Two British citizens have been snatched from the streets of Damascus in dramatic fashion. But the question is – why were they taken?

It’s thought they were taken by the police, but there is no confirmation. It’s already causing a diplomatic storm – with the UK threatening to tone down warming relations with Syria unless the British Embassy is given access to them – assuming they are in a prison cell.

British woman Maryam Kallis went missing on 15 March. A UK man was taken on 17 March in apparently unconnected circumstances.

Kallis was caught by ten men in civilian clothes. She was taken to her flat, where the men demanded she hand over her passport. She had been staying with her sister.

But here’s where it gets interesting.

UK Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell has met not just Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Muallem but also the country’s religious affairs minister Mohamad Abdul Sattar Al Sayeed. Why?

Kallis’s husband has made an issue over her religion. Masood Kallis has accused the British of not making a big deal of her case because she is Muslim.


She was arrested as she walked the streets of Rukn Ad-Deen (right), in northern Damascus. Rukn Ad-Deen is one of the most religious areas of the city, and the destination of choice for many foreign Muslims moving to Damascus.

The area is home to the controversial Abu Noor religious school. A few years ago, Syria banned foreign students from enrolling at Abu Noor because of alleged connections with extremism.

So what is going on? Were these two people involved in something darker than we’ve been told?

Of course that’s not the issue just yet – at the moment, the priority is just for British officials to meet the prisoners.


7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Topics about Religion » Two British citizens missing in Damascus // Apr 5, 2009 at 8.40 pm

    […] i was MADE for this created an interesting post today on Two British citizens missing in DamascusHere’s a short outlineWhy? Kallis’s husband has made an issue over her religion. Masood Kallis has accused the British of not making a big deal of her case because… […]

  • 2 Eva // Apr 5, 2009 at 9.51 pm

    This is worrying. Are they political?
    As you know its the anniversary of the disappearance of missing Canadian Nicole Vienneau ~ still missing after two years. Are these “disapperances” connected?

  • 3 Sasa // Apr 6, 2009 at 1.12 am

    Almost certainly no connection with Nicole. It seems these two are being held by police (probably).

    Are they political? Hard to say – but I’d guess someone thinks they are.

  • 4 orientalista // Apr 6, 2009 at 3.49 am

    Even though foreign students are still allowed to take classes at Abu Noor, I know of people for whom studying there meant being denied entry into the country on a subsequent visit.

    Is there any information on the British man?

  • 5 John Wreford (not my real name) // Apr 6, 2009 at 9.42 am

    Muslim students in Damascus have always had a troubled time, when you read British man or women arrested or missing in Syria you can be sure they are Muslim and of Arab descent, the situation of the Canadian is very different, the Syrian authorities have seemingly been very active in trying to find her.

  • 6 pamela // Apr 6, 2009 at 4.20 pm

    i presume that Maryam holds joint citizenship , the other being Syrian a British passport there is a written warning that duel nationality holders might not be under British protection .
    I,m hoping the worst that will happen is that she will be deported.

  • 7 inchoate // Apr 19, 2009 at 12.42 am

    “controversial Abu Noor … extremism … hahahah … oh my God, Abu Noor is one of the most liberal Islamic schools in the whole muslim world … who on earth is the author of this article

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