Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Islamists Don't Represent the Majority of Syrians

28-July-2009
By IWPR
If free elections were held in Syria, Islamist groups would not win, opposition writer Muhamad al-Haj Saleh argued in a July 26 op-ed piece published by the website all4Syria.



The idea that the majority of Syrians are conservative Sunnis is a myth that is used by the regime to scare secular people and other religious groups in the country, he said, adding that even the Sunni elite in Syria was favourable towards the idea of a secular state.



He said Syria’s diverse social fabric meant that many people in Syria would not vote for the banned Muslim Brotherhood, which would, according to his estimates, receive only 20 to 30 per cent of Sunni votes.



Saleh said that the tribal mentality, which was dominant in many areas of Syria, would make it more likely for tribal leaders or the elites to win a free election.



In other parts, the presence of Alawites, Druze and Christians would make it hard for Islamists to have any success among voters, he added.



Syria’s parliamentary elections take place every four years and were last held in 2007. They were boycotted by opposition groups who say that Syrians were not free to choose their political representatives.



The majority of the parliament's 250 seats are reserved for the National Progressive Front, which is a coalition of parties loyal to the socialist Baath regime.

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