Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A Heretic's Blog

Marc Cooper has already done so, but I'd like to call attention to A Heretic's Blog. The blog's author, Ammar Abdulhamid, once a U.S. student, currently resides in Damascus, Syria and writes eloquently for democracy and secularism and forcefully against dictatorship and fanaticism in the Arab world.

In his last post, Abdulhamid describes the dynamic between increasing political openness in Syria and Islamism. The result, he fears, will not be good for left-liberals and secularists.
The picture gets even more bleak, albeit realistic as well, when you add in to the mix the fact that the most “viable” grassroots pressure that we are likely to witness over the next few years, if not decades, will indeed be Islamist in nature. The fears of the regime are pretty much justified in this regard. Sooner or later, political openness will empower the Islamists and will give them much sway (though never complete control) over the political process. Islamists will also wreak havoc upon social dynamics.

Secularists, therefore, be they liberal, leftist or nationalist (both Syrian and Arab nationalists are included here), will have to content with an increasing doze of social oppression and marginalization to add to their increasing political difficulties, which is another natural outcome of “our” failure, so far, to build a strong grassroots support for ourselves, the reasons and roots for this failure notwithstanding.

The liberals in particular will suffer more than most as a result of this situation. For the leftists and nationalists have always had parties and organizations to represent their interests, the liberals never did. They existed only as individuals, and have never managed to establish movements or inspire currents or schools of thoughts. Not yet anyway. Our time might still come one day, but not soon.

Our real task at this stage is all too simply to manage the current crisis and plant seeds for the future.
Abdulhamid's courage continually astounds me. According to his previous post, his travel ban has just been lifted and he's planning on moving with his family to Lebanon come summer.

A Heretic's Blog should remind people, bloggers in particular, that people with access to technology are risking much more than a few harsh comments to expose the brutality and corruption of their surroundings to the outside world. Thankfully an organization has arisen to champion the rights of at-risk bloggers in repressive societies: The Committee to Protect Bloggers. Check'em out and be generous.