The Syrian president unveiled a new government on Thursday and released detainees in a bid to quell unprecedented protests which grow daily. Friday prayers, apart from weddings and funerals, is one of the few times Syrians can assemble legally under emergency laws dating back to the 1960s.
Every Friday for the last month since protests broke out in the southern city of Deraa people have taken to the streets.
The new government is led by Prime Minister Adel Safar, the former agriculture minister, but it is a government without real power, and people are unlikely to expect much of it, as it is Bashar al-Assad and his minority Alawite clan who control the country. Alawites are members of a Shia sect, while most Syrians are Sunni Muslims.
A Syrian rights group says at least 200 people have been killed as the protests spread from Deraa to the Kurdish east, the Mediterranean coast, and the central city of Homs, The people’s demands are similar to those seen in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya; more freedom, and an end to repression.