The Struggle for Syria’s Body & Soul!

According to Shaaban Abbod of An-Nahar, thestrugglebetween Islamists and secularists in Syria is intensifying. The recent sign in this regard can be seen in the open Letter to the President sent by Syria’s foremost Islamic scholars and Imams proclaiming the existence of an official conspiracy against Islamic education in the country. The leaders of this conspiracy seem to the secular forces in the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Religious Endowment (?), where the new Minister has just issued an edict against admitting students into religious schools at the preparatory level. Continue reading

Wet Dreams and Dry Realities!

The recentarticleby Shaaban Abboud on Islamic Movements in Syria highlights the fact that, in the final analysis and after all is said and done, these movements are formed along provincial rather than ideological lines, with personalities playing a huge role in this regard. Different sheikhs have different followers, disciples and devotees. They will compete with each other, and vilify each other, now somewhat quietly but tomorrow quite overtly, but they will eventually agree on one thing: the Shariah. Continue reading

Secularists & Islamists – The Promise & the Dread

This is the paper that I have prepared during my second stint as a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution (October 2005-March 2006). It, too, was too whimsical for publication as a Brookings policy paper. So, here it is.  Continue reading

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