Syria News Wire

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UN human rights inspector praises Syria

November 16th, 2010 · No Comments · Politics

Very unexpected news here, a UN inspector has been allowed in to a Syrian prison for the first time ever. Access was granted after numerous requests, which the UN never thought would come of anything. Even more unexpected news: the UN inspector was impressed by what he found in the Damascus central prison. The full […]

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Bait Al-Qassid

October 11th, 2010 · 2 Comments · Culture

Every Monday night, a dark, inhospitable hotel bar is transformed into one of Syria’s most vibrant creative salons: the House of Poetry, Bait Al-Qassid. Jennifer Mackenzie wrote one of the first pieces about the weekly event (which recently celebrated its fourth anniversary) in Gulf Life magazine. The basement bar at the Fardoss Tower Hotel, just […]

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There’s a synagogue in…Beirut?

October 3rd, 2010 · 8 Comments · Culture

That’s the tone of Fareed Zakaria’s slightly patronising CNN piece. But it still served an important purpose. “This is the Maagan Abraham Synagogue,” he begins. “It’s not in Miama, it’s not in Tel Aviv, it’s in Beirut. That’s right, Beirut, Lebanon.” The incredulity continues: “Why did this nation, often teetering on the brink of religious […]

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Spice Bazaar

October 2nd, 2010 · No Comments · Culture

It’s been a while since we had a strong new English-language blog from Damascus, years in fact. So step up Spice Bazaar. Named after my favourite souq in the city (Souq Al-Bouzaria), Spice Bazaar is a promising collection of posts on society, culture and politics. From the beautifully simple post about a micro-driver to big […]

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Quran burning – the aftermath

September 9th, 2010 · 1 Comment · Culture

Get ready. A new nightmare is about to begin. As if the cartoon protests weren’t enough, a new wave of violence is just over the other side of the horizon. Just like last time, a group of reactionaries in the west are dressing up their hatred in the language of free speech. Last time, the […]

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Syria: Eid starts on Friday

September 8th, 2010 · No Comments · Culture

The top religious judge in Damascus, Adel Bunduk, has declared that Eid will start on Friday in Syria. That is in line with Saudi Arabia and most of the Arab World. That means for the first time in years, the majority of the region started and ended Ramadan at the same time. The decision on […]

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Syria’s new crackdown on Islamists

September 6th, 2010 · 1 Comment · Politics

After this summer’s niqab ban it universities, it seems a more widespread crackdown on religious radicals is under way. When Syria was ostracised in 2005, following US accusations that it killed Rafiq Al-Hariri, the secular country relaxed its anti-Islamist rhetoric for the first time in two decades, even allowing exiled Muslim Brotherhood members to return. […]

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Blair: Bush was on the verge of invading Syria

September 5th, 2010 · No Comments · Politics

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has revealed how close George W Bush was to invading and occupying Syria. Phil Sands reports in The National that Blair has discussed formerly private conversations for the first time in his newly published memoirs: “He would have worked through the whole lot, Iraq, Syria, Iran, dealing with all […]

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Kan ya ma kan… Storytelling in Jahez Park

September 2nd, 2010 · No Comments · Culture

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Syria to get third mobile operator

August 31st, 2010 · 3 Comments · Business

The rumours are back, but this time with official backing: Syria will soon have a third mobile phone network, joining Syriatel and MTN. It was initially supposed to happen a few years ago, but no operator was appointed. Then in 2008, there were rumours that Kuwaiti mobile company Zain, or Turkcell wanted to take over […]

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