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.

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.”

Syria’s escalating slaughter

By The Washington Post Editorial Board

Last week President Obama did say that his “calculus” about “military engagement” would change if the regime began using or deploying its stocks of chemical weapons. But as the Syrian blogger Ammar Abdulhamid has written, the drawing of that red line may have emboldened the regime to conclude that anything short of using weapons of mass destruction will be tolerated by Washington.

Mr. Abdulhamid wonders “why slaughter would be deemed tolerable if it happened one way and not another.” It’s a good question — and one for which the administration’s morally bankrupt policy has no answer.

Syria Crisis: Obama Warns on Chemical Weapons

A quote in the Guardian:

In his latest blog post, exiled Syrian activist Ammar Abdulhamid takes issue with President Obama’s “coldly articulated red line regarding the use of chemical weapons” which he says “might just translate into a green light for more frenzied killing sprees by Assad and his militias”.

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