12/16/2005, 00.00
SYRIA

Fears in Damascus after UN Resolution 1644 is adopted

Jihad Issa
Almost all streets and stores are empty in the Syrian capital. Many checkpoints have been set up around the city for fear of possible attacks. In Beirut, Card Sfeir urges everyone "to bury hatred".

Damascus (AsiaNews) – Even though Syria's official press put a positive spin on the absence of sanctions against the country, residents of Damascus are worried after the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1644.

Indeed, tension is quite palpable in the streets. The traditional big Christmas trees that used to don the city at this time of the year are no where to be seen—the government has other things to worry about these days.

Stores are empty and the few would-be buyers drive up to store windows to check prices and then drive off.

Army and police checkpoints have been set up across the city for fear of car bombs. And yet the authorities seem unable to exert the type of total control they once did, especially at this point in time when calls for the regime of Bashar al-Assad to be removed still echo in people's minds.

The atmosphere remains oppressive—people are fearful of what international pressures might do.

Applications for exit visas are up as people try to find some other haven where to raise their family in peace.

Newspapers have focused on the UN refusal to accept all the demands of the Lebanese government and on the looming political crisis that might be caused if the five Hezbollah and Amal ministers in the current Lebanese cabinet decide to boycott it.

Lebanon, too, is at a critical crossroad after the recent wave of car bombs.

Many churches have cancelled Midnight Christmas Mass.

Responding to an appeal by Samir Geagea, and Walid Jumblatt, many young activists belonging to the March 14 Movement have camped out in downtown Beirut.

The Maronite Patriarch, Card Nassrallah Sfeir, who will issue his Christmas message next week, showed his sadness today when he met Fr Antoine Rajeh, rector of the Antonian University, and his council.

In showing his anxiety and expressing his concern, the patriarch called on everyone to give forgiveness a chance. In his view, the prevailing "politics of death" kill and are anti-human.

He urged Catholic universities "to fulfill their duties vis-à-vis young people. [It is they] who can save Lebanon."

In receiving MP Nassib Lahoud, Card Sfeir appealed to everyone to do what Ghassan Tueni, father of slain journalist and lawmaker Gibran Tueni, said, namely "Let hatred be buried with Gibran".

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