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 →
Prepared for a briefing that took place in Washington on January 15, 2013.
MAP OF CONFLICT
The regime is continuing its policy of holding on to big cities and main roads while surrendering the surrounding countryside to rebels. However, it seems inevitable now that the regime might be forced to relinquish its control over the north and northeast soon, a process that could begin within the next 2 to 3 months. This move will include Aleppo City, and the provinces of Deir Ezzor, Raqqa and Hassakeh. Continue reading →
Syria’s civil war is now strongly characterised by militias identifying along sectarian lines. The growing divide between Sunnis and Alawites has profound implications for Syria, and the Middle East.Continue reading →
As it happens, it was the Rushdie affair that inspired the book in the first place. The essay writing contest was the idea of the Ammar Abdulhamid, a US-educated Syrian who became disillusioned with radical Islam after the fatwa issued against Rushdie by Iran. He pointed out to the American Islamic Congress that while the Muslim world had vast, well-organised networks of people pushing extremist visions, nobody was doing the same thing for liberal ideas. “What we need is an essay contest on liberty with significant cash prizes,” he said.
Long ago, I learned that “the mere tendency of speech to encourage unlawful acts is not a sufficient reason for banning it” (Ashcroft vs. Free Speech Coalition). But, many incidents over the last decade or so have made me wonder: what if someone is intentionally trying to solicit a violent response to serve a particular political agenda that has nothing to do with freedom? Continue reading →
“To Assad, the rallies spurred by the Islam-bashing film were heaven-sent: they have given credence to his claims that the Arab Spring is at heart an Islamist spring and that al Qaeda and its affiliates will be empowered as a result,” says Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian activist based in America. “Meanwhile, the rallies have also distracted international attention from the current mayhem unfolding in Syria, and they might give pause to any calls for intervention.”
Written on: September 1, 2012 Updated and finalized on: September 11, 2012
The Shredded Tapestry: The State of Syria Today
A Trip Report (Turkey, August 10-30)
The trip was arranged for the purpose of helping an independent American film company do a documentary on the Syrian Revolution. Khawla Yusuf and I were invited as advisers and interview subjects. But while the film crew made their rounds, Khawla and I had ample time and opportunity to meet with important activists and conduct our own interviews. Continue reading →
Ammar Abduhamid is a liberal Syrian pro-democracy activist whose anti-regime activities led to his exile in September, 2005. He currently lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife, Khawla Yusuf, and their two children, Oula (b.1986) and Mouhanad (b. 1990). He is the founder of the Tharwa Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting democracy, and is currently a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. His personal blog is the Syrian Revolution Digest. Continue reading →
One manifestation of the troubled state of current identity politics within Muslim communities is evident in the way some elements are targeting the region’s Christian communities. While Al-Qaeda style violence might the new development in this regard, the trend itself is not that new. Continue reading →
On October 22-23, the Center for Strategic & International Studies organized a workshop under the title Overcoming Extremism. I took part in the Changing Media Landscape session, alongside Anthony Barnett of openDemocracy, and Kathleen Ridolfo of Radio Free Europe. Here is a recording of the entire session hosted on the ever useful Forat.tv. Hope you enjoy.