Assad attends Damascus mosque for Prophet Mohammed birthday

AFP , Tuesday 22 Dec 2015

A handout image obtained from the official facebook page of Syrian Presidency shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (7R) praying at a mosque in the capital, Damascus, to commemorate the birth of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed, known in Arabic as "al-Mawlid al-Nabawi", on December 22, 2015 (Photo: AFP)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in one of his rare public appearances, attended the Muslim celebration of Mawlid marking the Prophet Mohammed's birthday in a Damascus mosque Tuesday, state media reported.

The ceremony, broadcast on state television, was held in Al-Akram mosque in the capital's western district of Mazzeh.

Assad was shown next to Religious Affairs Minister Mohammed Abdel Sattar Sayyed and the mufti of Syria, Ahmad Badredin Hassoun.

Last Friday, the president and his wife Asma also made a pre-Christmas visit to a church in an eastern suburb of Damascus often targeted by rebel artillery.

Assad, a member of the Alawite sector of Shia Islam, presents himself as a protector of Syria's minorities.

He says his secular regime is an example of tolerance, in contrast to the extremism of jihadists such as ISIS which has seized large swathes of the war-torn country.

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