Syrian Easter celebrations cancelled amid unrest

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Good Friday and other Easter processions have been cancelled in Syria as a result of violent street unrest.

The country’s Christian minority has been forced to abandon its usually colourful commemorations because of the number of “martyrs” who have died and the “bad situation,” a senior church official said.

Syria is braced for more protests, despite an announcement President Bashar Assad had lifted the 48-year state of emergency, a key demand.

Government promises of reform combined with violence by armed plainclothes security forces have only served to bolster the opposition, who plan demonstrations after regular Muslim Friday prayers. These will clash with Good Friday services, which would normally see processions and public gatherings by Syria’s Christians, around five per cent of the population.

Bishop Philoxenos Mattias, assistant to the Syriac Orthodox Church Patriarchate in Damascus, said services would still take place inside churches.

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