BREAKING NEWS

Damascus merchants put up shutters in challenge to Assad

In the biggest act of civil disobedience by Damascus merchants in Syria's 15-month-old uprising, many stores have been closed for a week in protest against the massacre of more than 100 people in Houla on May 25.
The closures have affected districts all across the capital, from the Old City market to opposition areas where 70 percent of stores appeared shut despite what shopkeepers said were attacks and threats by security forces to force them to reopen."We want to participate in the strike but at the same time we are afraid of the reaction of the security police," said Mohammed, who owns a clothes shop in the traditional al-Hamidiya souk - a long, covered walkway that cuts through the Old City.
Widespread closures in the capital, a stronghold of Syrian President Bashar Assad, represent a major challenge to the Syrian leader and Mohammed said security forces had broken open his locked shop door a few days ago to intimidate him.
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