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Reports of Clampdown on Religious Activities

The Syrian security services are cracking down on religious practises, reported opposition website Levant News in a June 11 article.

The website – which is close to the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement – said that security officials had issued an order to close all places designated for prayer, including those in shopping malls, like City Mall and Sham Centre, as well as union buildings.

The decision made by the National Security Office, which takes orders from the ruling Ba’ath party, was implemented last week, said the website, quoting unnamed sources.

Meanwhile, it also reported that security services were summoning clerics in order to send a message that religious groups are under close scrutiny.

The report said that religious TV channel, Mehrab al-Sham – which is directed by pro-government religious figure Sheikh Saira al-Rifai – was recently forced to close down.

The channel reportedly broadcast interviews with several official religious figures, like Muhammad Saed Ramadan al-Boti and Ahmad Hasson, the Mufti of Syria.

The owners of the station – which had been broadcasting in Bahrain – were reportedly questioned by security officials in Syria few months ago, said the report.

According to the website, another media organisation headed by Sheikh Saira was also recently shut down, although the reports gave no reasons for this.

Lately, the Syrian Centre for Islamic Studies, which is run by pro-government Dr Muhammad Habash, was closed by the authorities with no clear reasons given.

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