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.”
It 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
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.
Update: People protest against government plans on public radio.
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