Despite Concessions, Syria Protests Continue
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
In Syria today, the government announced the repeal of the emergency law which has been in effect for nearly 50 years. It has allowed the government to arrest people without cause. A state court would also be abolished, a court where political prisoners were tried in secret. The measures meet a key demand of anti-government protestors, but protests have not ended.
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NORRIS: Deb, can you tell us what happened in Homs?
DEBORAH AMOS: Syrians radicalized by the violence. And the policy of the Syrian government, carrots and then this big stick of the security police, isn't working because it creates grievances which are huge.
NORRIS: Now, the government has a slightly different explanation for the violence. They say that it's an armed insurrection carried out by Islamists and other enemies of Syria. Do Syrians buy that explanation?
AMOS: Among the upper middle classes, those who have vested interests with the regime, they are afraid of instability and they want the president, Bashar al- Assad, to move on reforms. But even regime supporters I've talked to worry that it's too little too late. They say that lifting the emergency law would've had a whole lot more clout if it was done a month ago.
AMOS: How do you reform a security service that's acted with impunity for 40 years? Now, the regime is facing an uprising across the country and the protesters, they're getting bolder. Today, about 200 doctors at Damascus University staged a protest - they posted it on YouTube - and there are reports that more than a dozen of them were detained.
NORRIS: Now, as we said, the protesters have been calling for the end of emergency law and lifting emergency law was supposed to be some sort of concession. Will it go some way toward perhaps calming the streets?
AMOS: In the past month, the Syrian regime has changed and the Syrian people have changed. This was a society that had no real history of mass protests. The large youth population, they were mainly apolitical. They were worried about getting a job. But they've had a crash course in political organizing in the past 30 days. And the Assad regime is going to have to be very nimble to keep ahead of the anger, and their past performance has show that they don't have a very deep playbook.
NORRIS: That's NPR's Deborah Amos, speaking about the events in Syria. She joined us from Beirut. Deb, thanks so much.
AMOS: Thank you.
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