How the Rushdie affair has inspired some fine Arab writing

A mention in the Daily Telegraph:

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.

Twin bombings shake Syrian capital

Quoted in the Christian Science Monitor

Meanwhile, exiled activist Ammar Abdulhamid interpreted the attack in a very different way:

Assad’s grip over Damascus has become tenuous at best. Rebels are able to conduct bombings and attacks even in the most secured areas aided by informants embedded within Assad’s own security establishment. The battle of Damascus is set to begin at earnest soon, in what promises to be a very bloody development.

Free Breech!

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

An Interview with Turkish TV Channel

The transcript can be found at this link (Google Translations can give a good idea of the gist). The video is below. The interview was conducted during my three-weeks trip to Turkey in August but was aired only on September 18.

Ammar Abdulhamid röportajı by imctv

Rebels Despair That Anti-American Protests Overshadow Syrian Struggle

A mention in the Daily Beast:

“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.”