President Bashar al-Assad har innledet et tett samarbed med Iran og Hizbollah som en motvekt til UsAs innnflytelse i regionen. Men under det maktpolitiske spillet foregår en religiøs vekkelse i Syria, både blant shiaer og sunnier. Frykten for at islamister vil gjøre krav på makt er stor.

Mediene får ikke lov å omtale de ulike religiøe grupperingene. Det er tabu.

The risks also involve domestic affairs as Syria struggles against an increase in religious identification, particularly among Sunnis, and signs that the most radical interpretations of Islam have begun to spread in Syria.

That fight goes back to Hafez al-Assad’s reign, when he sent the army to wipe out the city of Hama, where the Muslim Brotherhood had started an uprising. Recently, Bashar al-Assad’s government reported killing a small group of Islamic terrorists planning to attack a government building in the center of Damascus.

All of this could present a challenge for a government controlled by a religious minority — the Alawites — and a political party that identifies itself as secular, the Baath Party.

«Our situation is so difficult now in the Islamic street,» said Muhammad Habash, a Syrian lawmaker and the director of the liberal-leaning Islamic Studies Center in Damascus. «Foreign influences, by which I mean mainly Saudi influences, or Wahhabi influences, are creating dangerous discussions in this region.»

Those forces promote the idea that Shiites are not proper Muslims — and in some cases declare them to be apostates.

Regimets behov for politiske allianser skyver religiøse risiki i bakgrunnen.

But the influx of religious pilgrims in Syria — some estimates exceed a million a year — and the Iranian investment in Shiite shrines in the north, could increase tensions.

At the same time, Iran’s efforts to bolster Shiism in parts of Syria come as the government here is confronted by the rise of radical Islamic ideas that many say are being exported from the gulf region. Though relations with Iran are widely perceived as a political alliance rather than a religious one, the confluence of the two forces could aggravate sectarian rivalries. Tensions among Syria’s many religious and ethic groups burn so hot beneath the surface of the society that newspapers are forbidden from identifying sects even when reporting on Iraq.

Wary of U.S., Syria and Iran Strengthen Ties