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‘Crackdown on coffins:’ dead Syrians haunt their regime

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The violent repression of the Syrian revolution does not just affect survivors, for the dead have also become a source of concern for the regime, which is seen in the latest procedure of searching coffins for “security reasons.”

The Syrian regime now prohibits the closing of coffins during funerals in the capital Damascus and the family of a dead person can only use a cloth to cover the body while the coffin remains open.

This violates a long-established tradition in Syria where a coffin is to remain closed on the way from the deceased’s house to the mosque, where funeral prayers are performed, and then from the mosque to the cemetery.

Open coffins are also searched by security forces before the funeral is allowed to proceed.

“When they started searching my son’s coffin, I preferred to have died right there and then before seeing him humiliated like this even when dead,” said the mother of one of the young dead men.

Traditional long funeral processions were banned from the early months of the revolution because they often turned into demonstrations against the regime.

Now only two cars are allowed in a procession, one that carries the body and one that carries the family of the deceased.

The two cars are usually searched with special attention paid to the coffin and the driver of the car that is taking it to the grave.

“You never know what these devils are capable of doing,” the driver of a car carrying the body of young man overheard security officers as saying. “They might hide explosives in the coffin.”

Members of the deceased’s family are also thoroughly searched after checking their identification documents.

The growing restrictions imposed on funerals drove Syrian in the capital to change many of the rituals they had been used to following the death of a loved one.

For years, condolences were paid at the house of the deceased’s family for three consecutive days, but now they are reduced to two. This ceremony has been cancelled altogether if the deceased passes away outside his hometown.