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Like other countries run by authoritarian regimes hidden under a seemingly republican system, Syria faces problems linked to the lack of democracy. The country does not hold multi-party elections and opposition parties are not officially recognised. The political parties of the Kurdish minority are considered illegal and there is heavy censorship against dissident voices. Consititutional protections for citizens are suppressed as emergency Laws are enforced. Therefore, the achievements or failures of the ruling classes are never really tested by the popular vote, contributing to stagnation and corruption in the ruling classes. The current President is Bashar al-Assad, the son of the previous President Hafez al-Assad who ruled the country from the 1970s to his death in the year 2000.
The country has a poor record on human rights and is both the final destination and the transit for women and children who are sexually exploited and reduced to forced labor. The country also has weak laws to prevent money laundering. Although the ruling Baath Party is socialist in inspiration and has promoted a secular society, since the beginning of the 21st century, the country has been swept by a Islamic revival which may, in the long run, undermine the foundations of contemporary Syrian society. This is also due to the growing political and popular support that the Lebanese Muslim faction Hizbollah has been garnering in Syria. The modernization that globalization and new technologies are bringing to the country thus clashes with the conservative messages conveyed in Koranic schools, the veritable centres of this religious revival.
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