Free Ali! Free Alaa! Free Ramin! Free Fateh! Free US All!

And the list goes on. It’s pretty depressing really. The backlash against civil rights activists in the region seems to be in full force these days. Why is it a backlash? Because I believe it is closely connected to the US continuing troubles in Iraq and to the fact the Bush’s second term in office is drawing to an end. The regimes are taking a defiant stand in resonance with Ahmadinejad’s own stands. Continue reading

From Ali to Alaa. From Syria to Egypt!

Egyptian Sandmonkey wants us to move heaven and earth on behalf of Egyptian blogger and democracy activist, Alaa, who got arrested today during a protest to support the Judiciary’s branch fight for independence. Seeing that I am a fellow blogger, an advisor to the Committee to Protect Bloggers, and a member in the international jury that voted to grant Alaa (and his wife Manal) the special award offered by Reporters Without Borders in late 2005, I say, let’s do it. Details here.


Copts, Women & Beer

First posted on my short-lived blog Tharwalizations. 

In a conference on civil dialogue that took place a few years ago, participants discussed the possibility of conducting a serious dialogue between Islamists and secularists. I remember that, at the time and in response to an Egyptian colleague who advocated dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood in his country, we coined the term “Copts, Women and Beer” to reefer to three main issues that one needs to deal with, which are: diversity issues, gender issues and privacy issue.   Continue reading

The Falafel Republic – 2!

Despite the advice that President Jacques Chirac seems to have gotten from his Egyptian counterparts and Saudi counterparts, statements made by the French President during his recent address laying out French foreign policy for the year ahead reflect a certain unwillingness to compromise with the Syrian regime at this stage. President Chirac affirmed that the time for dabbling in Lebanese affairs and attempting to destabilize it is over, he then called on the Syrian authorities to cooperate fully with the UN commission and asserted that Syria’s “return to the heart of the community of nations is contingent on a change in behavior.”  Continue reading

Flexibility allows for hope, rigidity precipitates mayhem

Tharwa Editorial

Despite the authoritarian nature of many Iranian institutions, the ruling elite have long agreed on a certain process for managing their differences. This process is still in effect today and is playing a major role in the country by allowing for a certain amount of political dynamism on the top and, therefore, for a certain amount of hope for survival, if not of the Islamic regime itself then of the country.  Continue reading

Will Arab regimes reform themselves before the genie gets out of the lamp?

Tharwa Editorial

A few months ago, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak faced his country’s parliament and made a rather surprising gesture. He called for the formulation and adoption of a new bill allowing for multi-candidate presidential elections to take place for the first time in the history of that country.

A few days later, Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad, addressed the Syrian parliament and announced the withdrawal of his country’s troops from neighboring Lebanon and promised that the Tenth Congress of the Baath Party will represent a “qualitative leap” for the country.  Continue reading