DAMASCUS, Syria, July 30 (UPI) — The Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which starts Monday and runs through Aug. 29, is likely to take on a different attitude this year, Syrian officials said.
Usually a month of quiet reflection and prayer, Ramadan is anticipated this year as an opportunity to focus protests against embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad, who many Syrians want out of power, The Guardian reported Saturday.
“It’s become a cliche to say it will be like Friday every day as people gather for prayer, but it will be,” said a former political prisoner with links to the Sunni community, speaking in his house in Damascus. “Pressure on the regime will increase from more frequent protests and more people coming out.”
Anxious protesters in some areas haven’t waited for the official start of Ramadan to call for Assad’s overthrow. In the city of Hama Friday they were chanting, “Our God, help us to fast and pray … and topple the regime.”
Assad’s security forces, forcing some dissidents to remain unseen during the day and become active at night, have killed an estimated 1,600 protesters since the uprising against Assad started.
At least nine people were killed across Syria Friday as thousands took to the streets, defying a heavy security presence, the report said, including in the city of Deir Ezzor, where deaths were also reported earlier this week.