U.S. English Foundation Research



Language Research

3. Language issues: Where does one observe language to be a problem in the country?


The Government generally permits national and ethnic minorities to conduct traditional, religious, and cultural activities, however, the Government’s attitude toward the Kurdish minority is a significant exception to this policy. Although the Government contends that there is no discrimination against the Kurdish population, it has placed limits on the use and teaching of the Kurdish language, Kurdish cultural expression, and, at times, the celebration of Kurdish festivals. The Supreme State Security Court has tried some members of the Kurdish community for expressing support for greater Kurdish autonomy and independence. Although the Asad Government has stopped the practice of stripping Kurds in Syria of their Syrian nationality, some 120,000 persons lost Syrian nationality under this program in the 1960’s and it has yet to be restored.

As a result, those who had their nationality taken away, and their children, have been unable to obtain Syrian nationality and passports, or even identification cards and birth certificates. Without Syrian nationality, these stateless Kurds, who according to UNHCR estimates number about 200,000 persons, are unable to own land, cannot be employed by the Government, and have no right to vote. They also encounter difficulties in enrolling their children in schools. Stateless Kurdish men may not marry Syrian citizens legally.