"Some try to explain the absence of mass rallies by claiming that the tyrannical nature of the government prevents them, but this will not wash. In Egypt, the police, army and security forces under President Mubarak were far stronger than those under Assad in Syria today, yet they still could not prevent huge popular protests. There has been nothing like that in Syria, for the reality is that the opposition does not represent the will of the people. Instead, it is a largely Islamist force that wants to end Assad’s attachment to secular rule, under which — for all the regime’s other failings — the rights of religious minorities are respected." I think that the point of the absence of mass rallies is valid, and it should be pointed out that there were mass rallies in Hamah and Homs in the early months of the uprising. One need to explain their absence in recent months and that requires an assessment of the performance of the armed opposition. Not all opposition to Asad is Islamist although it is fair to say that the Islamist forces (from Ikhwan to the Bin Ladenites) have basically hijacked the movement and steered it in another direction which alienated and scared not only secular Syrians but religious minorities as well. We should also point out that the armed Islamist forces of the opposition have already engaged in a large number of sectarian killings to increase the fear of minorities.