Syrians are fearful that extremists will seek to start a sectarian war and the Assad government is playing on these fears to its advantage to dumb down protests.
In March violent protests broke out in Latakia, a religiously diverse city. Assad’s government blamed renowned Sunni Muslim cleric, Sheik Youssef al-Qaradawi, for inciting the unrest amongst the Sunnis in a Sermon he gave in Doha. In his sermon, Al-Qaradawi, who has millions of followers around the world, said, "Today the train of revolutions arrived at a station that was inevitable it would reach: the station of Syria."
Government tactics to use the fear of sectarian war to squash protests was demonstrated when it blamed the killing of a policewoman and two protesters in Latakia on a group of Palestinians refugees. The propaganda machine stated that Sunnis were attacking, and killing Alawites and Christians.
In a sign of resilience, Syrians are showing the government that they do not want a sectarian war, or care to incite one either in their attempt to overthrow the government. Chants of “One Syria” are heard at protests in a deliberate and direct message to the government that they are not scared to protest.