Secularism and the Barometer for Democracy

Facebook | May 25, 2013

This statement by Ed Hussein makes absolutely no sense:

“If the barometer for democracy is France or Britain, then Muslim countries are not on that trajectory. Why should they be? Theirs is a different culture rooted in scripture, unlike that of secular Europe. The freedom to blaspheme or “insult the prophets and God” is not acceptable to most Muslims or even Christians living in Palestine, Pakistan, Egypt, or Lebanon. This tension between Western and other approaches to democracy will remain a cause for ongoing struggle.” Continue reading

Everything you ever wanted to know – and less – about Syrian underwear

Mention in The Daily Star

Kevorkian’s essay is followed by an interview with the dissident author and democracy activist Ammar Abdulhamid, whose first novel, “Menstruation,” deals with a young Islamist who can smell women’s menstrual blood. It is one of the highlights of the book, with Halasa asking thoughtful, pointed questions that provoke equally thoughtful replies, which add up to a comprehensive briefing on gender relations in Syria. He and his wife now live in the US, where he is a fellow at the Brookings Institution. To no one’s surprise, he dismisses Victoria’s Secret, one of his wife’s favorites, as “lame.” Back in Syria, he says, there “is simply much, much more.”

Assad’s Syria – many circuses, little bread, no freedom!

Damascus_festivities1_2It was dazzling, I am told, that public celebration declaring Damascus the capital of Arab culture for 2008. Pavements, throughout the city, even those finished mere weeks prior to the celebrations were (re)dug and redone so that more of our illustrious officials can cash in on the event, or, to be more precise, so that some can cash in more than others. All in all, the entire budget dedicated to this event needs to be spent, and officials will always find ways to achieve that. But in this, Syria may not be different than any other country, I guess. Continue reading

Rise up Syrians!

This is not about politics. This is not about who’s in and who’s out, who’s in power and who’s in jail or exile, who’s rich and who’s poor. This is about the love of a city and of country, this is about what makes us all tick, what gives us all a soul, what gives us an anchor in this turbulent world. This is about protecting the last vestiges of our historical identity. If we give up on Damascus now, we will become like drifting hollowed logs in a raging river, with nothing to look forward to but an approaching abyss.

Sign this petition to save Old Damascus. Have your say on this sordid affair. This is the least we can do.

Update: People protest against government plans on public radio.

The Dying of Old Damascus!

Despite ample protests by civil society advocates, current residents and international NGOs, the Syrian authorities are said to move forward with plans to destroy the last pieces of Old Damascus that remain just outside the Old City Walls, especially the area known as Souq al-Manakhliyyah. Should this indeed take place, thousands of Damascene families will be thrown out of their dwellings with little or no compensation, and a piece of history will perish forever. Unless we can bring prompt international attention to this matter, soon there will be nothing to protest, as we will all be faced with a fait accomplit. Continue reading

The Death of Moderation!

What can be said about the current developments in Lebanon except that we might be seeing the prelude to a civil war?What could really be more telling than this?

But yes, I can praise the March 14 forces for showing so much restraint and from refraining to challenge the current show of force by Hezbollah and supporters, the pro-Syria demonstrators, by mounting an equally impressive show of their own. But this will be adding more fuel to the fire, and already several agents provocateurs, some of which reportedly Syrian, have been involved in trying to steer the crowds into doing something stupid such as storming the Serail. The restraint shown by the March 14 forces is indeed wise and commendable. Continue reading

A Few Heresies in Honor of the Ramadan Season!

Ramadan. The most hedonistic time of the Muslim year. So, hedonistic, in fact, it might as well be called the Muslim Christmas or Hanukah. Indeed, human nature, when given the chance, tends to bastardize all rituals and observances meant to celebrate our loftier desires and yearnings. So be it. I really don’t have much problem with this particular human contradiction. I much rather the heterogeneity of individualized bastardization than the homogeneity of collective ritualistic observance.

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The Personal Side of History!

On Tuesday morning, Future TV did a short interview with my Mom regarding her take on the current developments in Lebanon. In her usual empathetic manner my Mom managed to capture in her comments the essence of how many Arab people around the world feel today. She said that she does not know how future generations will choose to judge our current helplessness and lack of action, and thatthe best that she can do was to simply apologize for all those children who died because there was nothing that she could do to prevent it. She, then, concluded by saying “Long live the resistance!,” because it is the only sign of dignity that we have left. Continue reading