April 8, 2011 in Nation/World

Citizenship given to Syrian Kurds

Zeina Karam Associated Press
 
15 percent of residents

Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Syria, making up 15 percent of the country’s 23 million people. They have long complained of neglect and discrimination.

BEIRUT, Lebanon – The Syrian president granted citizenship Thursday to thousands of Kurds, fulfilling a key demand of the country’s long ostracized minority and making another overture amid extraordinary anti-government protests that have shaken Bashar Assad’s authoritarian regime.

State-run television said Assad issued a decree granting citizenship to more than 250,000 Kurds registered as aliens in the records of the northeastern Hasaka province. In a separate decree, Assad fired the governor of central Homs province, which has been the scene of clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces over the past three weeks.

The overtures are part of a series of concessions by the regime designed to subdue the protests that erupted in a southern city on March 18 and spread to other parts of Syria. The decrees come on the eve of more protests planned by Syrian activists, who have called for nationwide demonstrations today.

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