Syria is a secular state, but the religious breakdown of the Syrian population is approximately 74% Sunni Muslims, 16% Shia Muslims, 10% Christian (source – CIA World Factbook). However, the al- Assad family which has ruled Syria since 1971 are Alawites (one of the branches of Shia Islam), and government positions are mainly held by Alawites.
Since the drama of the Italian election in the spring, European politics have been remarkably quiet. This has been by design – the countries who would like Germany to provide money or ease policy to support their beleaguered economies have understood that it is very important not to scare the German voters ahead of their general election on September 22.
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