"While Syria, a country ruled by the secular Baath party, bans all opposition groups, human rights activists contend that Islamic organisations bear the brunt of the repression – and they say it is becoming worse.
"In November, SCHR published a statement by the Democratic Islamic Trend in Syria which said that security agencies had forced at least 12 individuals, including leading religious figures, to step down from posts in various Muslim associations, several of which have been dissolved.
"Meanwhile, Syria’s religious affairs ministry informed female teachers at mosques that they needed to obtain permission from the security services to teach or risk having their classes cancelled.
"'The regime has destroyed civil society in the country, prevented cultural growth and tried to show the world that Islamists are a more unruly alternative to the regime, in the hope that it can keep them under its control,' said a political analyst who preferred to stay anonymous.
"'Nothing scares this government more than political Islam, because they know that it can attract and mobilise citizens much faster than secular democratic movements.'"