Apr 30 - Television cameras are allowed to film in the Syrian capital for the first time since pro-democracy protests erupted six weeks ago.
The historic market of Hamidieh, in old Damascus. On Saturday the crowds are out. And despite turmoil in other parts of the country, people are shopping. Traders said pro-democracy protests that have spread across the country of 20 million have affected them in some way but there is still demand for goods. Shop owner Abdo Darwish. SOUNDBITE: Shop owner Abdo Darwish, saying (Arabic): "Syrian people do not get afraid. The situation affected the demand (in his store) between 25 to 30 percent. The country is stable. It accepts the little demand as well as the big one. What we love about it (Syria) is the security. Because of this cloud (the situation) some security was lost. But not all the security is gone, just some of it. This cloud will go away." For the first time since the troubles started, The Syrian Ministry of Information organized a day for news agencies and television crews to film in the capital. Some shoppers, cheered their support for President Bashar al-Assad when they saw the cameras in the covered market. Others say little has changed SOUNDBITE: Ghassan Mansour, saying (Arabic): "There are some mercenaries, which will end. There is nothing. The situation is good. Everything is okay and the market is open. We are working and may god protect the doctor (President Assad). I walk with my wife here and nobody asks for my identity. Imagine!! It's normal." And it is not just the locals out on the streets, One Australian tourist says he wanted to have a first hand look at Syria himself. SOUNDBITE: Australian Tourist, saying (English): "I've heard a lot about Syria. I think there is a lot of contradictions in the west. Syria is saying one particular way and I've come myself to see the wonderful Syrian people. It a beautiful country and the people are very welcoming". Troubles in Syria started six weeks ago as protesters took to the streets demanding more freedom. Rights groups say as many as 500 people have been killed in the protests. But in at least one Damascus market it looks like business as usual. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters