p.p1 command of Aramaic live in this monastery

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secularism and international dynamics, socialism, anti imperialism 
this self image is aligned with war on terror narrative as I will argue later

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1.1 -Religious Minorities 

The Baath government made efforts to present itself as a mediator between the religions and guarantor of the religious tolerance that has evolved over the course of Syria’s history. Assad liked to be filed by Syrian television when he received Christian patriarchs. Pope John Paul II’s visit to Syria with his much publicized prayer in Ummayyad Mosque in May 2001, one year after Bashar Assad inherited his late father’s presidency, was a welcome highlights meant to underline the regime’s political interest in propagating religious tolerance. During the Iraq war, Assad praised the pope for his anti-war stance. He said that religions again had a common position after the disruption of Christian-Muslim relations following 9/11. To reinforce this welcoming attitude towards Christians in Syria, the government opened the world’s first center for Aramaic language in Ma’loula, north of Damascus, in July 2004. The remaining Christians who still command of Aramaic live in this monastery town. Post 2011 uprising, the Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Beshara Boutros Rai warned that a collapse of the Baath regime in Syria would endanger Christian minorities and called on the Western state to give Assad a chance for political reform. Syrian priests made these calls too, and some were on international tours advocating support for Assad against ‘foreign conspiracy’ and ‘Islamic terrorists.’ 

1.2 Secular “Islamic Reflex”

“The first Islamic reflex occurred in early April 2011 when the government re-allowed female teachers to wear the niqab. The facial veil has been banned following a heated controversy in summer 2010. Some 1.200 instructors had been banned from teaching and moved to administrative positions instead. Simultaneously in April, a casino was closed and Islamist political prisoners were released. Founding an institute for religious sciences, Islamic and Arabic studies, the establishment of religious TV satellite channel. In Syria, sectarian cleavages were more easily exploited because the Syria minority mix is more complex and a governing minority regime. In a bitter irony of events, the same regime that had officially stood for anti-sectarianism and the protection of minorities had now chosen sectarian strife as its emergency survival plan. ”
 “During his years in office, Assad managed to introduce important changes in everyday life in Syria. For example, he cut required military services from thirty months to two years. Since the fall of 2003, children have been wearing new school uniforms. Instead of military green, the boys’ uniform was change dark blue/light blue and the girls’ dark blue/pink. At the same time, corporal punishment in classrooms was abolished, and some military elements were deleted from school curricula.
Despite a general frustration among opposition figures with regard to political reforms, it was nevertheless true that the areas of arts, media, and government-monitored NGOs were more colorful than under Hafez Al-Assad’s time. Artists had more space to maneuver if they abstain from touching the issue of politics. Indirect reforms of expressions compensated for the lack of open discussions be it in the debates about corruption, homosexuality or other subjects. Syrian TV series such as Bab Al Hara, Boqa Dou or Maraya have developed a tradition of social critic and became popular among Arab countries as well. 
Youth and education is traditionally a jealousy-guarded field of action in totalitarian systems. The Baath party had monopolized education since taking power in the 1960s. One of the early measures of young Assad was to break this privilege. Since 2001, local and foreign investors were allowed to engage in education. Private universities were granted licenses under strict surveillance of the state. 
By 2010 some twenty private institutions had been licensed, fifteen which had begun operating. Most are located on large campuses outside the city of Damascus, Aleppo, Latakia, and Homs. 
Since the state of emergency that ushered in Baath rle was  declared in 1963, the freedom of opinion media that is mentioned in the country’s Constitutions was severely strict. 
When Bashar took power, the country was one of the most isolated societies in the world: Almost no access to internet; satellite TV officially forbidden (although used at personal risk); and with a few state run media strictly controlling the flow of information. Shortly after Hafez Al-Assad’s death, the first internet cafes opened, and cell phones became available for the politically privilege for connection fees of about 1000$ per line. Nevertheless, the authoritarian state blocked 241 websites from mid-September 2009, of which were Kurdish websites, 35 opposition websites, 32 social networking sites and 15 Islamic sites. 
Bashar al-Assad’s project, on his accession to power, was to open the economy to the world market and adapt the country to the age of globalization through measures such as introduction of the internet. Ba’athist ideology was abandoned; yet, in the absence of a substitute blueprint, reform proceeded by trial and error, and incrementally to avoid destabilization and provoking enemies before Assad had built up his own reformist faction. His first priorities were to foster modernizing cadres and strengthen state institutions through administrative reform.12 In principle, the regime sought a ‘middle’ way, expanding the private sector while reforming rather than privatizing the public sector, and maintaining social protection during economic liberalization, as embodied in the slogan of the ‘social market’ economy adopted in 2005. However, this middle road, designed to retain the regime’s old base while adding new support, failed because the regime had no strategy for actually implementing a ‘social market’ economy. Moreover, the jettisoning of Ba’athist ideology left a vacuum, which neo-liberalism and Islamism would compete to fill.”
Liberal assad and nedoliberal bashar