One of the reforms that Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad has pledged is to look into the dilemma of 300,000 Kurds who were denied citizenship in the country for almost 50 years.
In 1962, one-fifth of Syria's Kurdish population were stripped of their Syrian citizenship following a highly controversial census. The government at that time alleged that many of the Kurds in the country had entered illegally from Turkey and thus were ineligible for citizenship.
Kurds are estimated to form about 10 percent of Syria’s population.
The Kurds are a non-Arab people who have no state. There are anywhere between 30-million and 35-million Kurds spread out over various nations in the Middle East and the former Russian republics, with Turkey, Iraq and Iran having the highest number. Kurds are estimated to account for almost one-fifth of Turkey’s total population. There also large numbers of Kurdish immigrants in Western Europe, particularly Germany.
Kurds are closely related to the Iranian people and most practice Sunni Islam. They are indigenous to the Middle East and many Kurds dream of establishing a homeland (Kurdistan) that would stretch out over eastern Turkey and parts of Syria, Iraq and Iran.
Kurds have faced significant persecution and oppression, particularly in Turkey which at one time tried to wipe out Kurdish language and culture.