Sunday, October 03, 2004

Nabil Fayyad Arrested

Nabil Fayyad, one of the most courageous and outspoken intellectuals in Syria, was arrested three days ago. Shaken by resolution 1559, the Syrian government may be seeking to intimidate anyone who calls for change. Fayyad, a Sunni Muslim who studied theology in Beirut, was a constant critic of Islamic obscurantism and warned against the growing power of fundamentalism in Syria. When writing on the widely read website, annaqed (The Critic) he could as often be as pointed as he was humorous. In the last few months he became a spokesman for the new "Liberal Gathering" Party in Syria. His smart editorials on the importance of liberalism, individual rights, and personal freedoms are as eloquent as they are moderate. His respect for humanism, learning, and tolerance colors everything he wrote. Several months ago I wrote about his refreshing point of view and exciting articles in my post, "New Voices from Syria."

Tony, at his site "Across the Bay," has written a fine article about Fayyad and the importance of his ideas. Read it here. It is smart and as challenging as Fayyad himself.

Yesterday I received this note from Bassam Darwich, the editor of

Dear Joshua; Nabil Fayyad was arrested 2 days ago. Another writer friend of his (Jihad Nasra) was also arrested just yesterday. Please, we need all the support we can get to expose the mistreatment of the intellectuals.

He added the following critique of the US attitude toward Nabil:

I somehow blame the government of the United States for the arrest of Nabil Fayyad. A month ago or so, Nabil applied for a visa to come to the United States for the purpose of giving lectures about the increasing influence of Islamic fundamentalism over the Syrian regime. His application was denied!

Without doubt, this encouraged the Syrian authorities to arrest him as they thought that no one would care much about him if arrested. The American embassy made a terrible mistake in denying him his visa.

The future of Syria depends on courageous people like Nabil who preferred to confront the regime from within rather than from without.

He wanted to come to the States for only one month to speak about what's going on in Syria. Now, the United States must interfere to secure his release and this man must be invited here and be treated like a real hero.

There are many good courageous men doing what Nabil is doing in Syria. Some have great aggressive web sites and still live there. Let us support them now as by supporting them we wouldn't need to sacrifice the life of one American soldier in another war.

Men like Nabil Fayyad are the basis for a secular democratic Syria.
Sincerely yours,
Bassam Darwich
A website about his case his here in Arabic

Bassam Darwich, is exactly right. Only by supporting true free thinkers like Nabil Fayyad does the US stand a chance of effecting real change in Syria. In the long run, it will be the Fayyads of Syria - the luminaries who work to educate at home by challenging old ideas and championing humanism - who change things. Guns can change regimes, but only ideas and education can change society.


At 10/04/2004 09:19:00 PM, Blogger A Syrian In The Far East said...

Bashar imprisoned another intellectul (Mr. Nabil Fayyad.)... Again.
Bashar has changed the cabinet... Again!
Many predict that all those changes and constant reshufflings in search of the reform and the "right person for the right position" would lead to nothing since Bashar insistently misses the real changes that should take place before any improvement could be realized.
To those who beleive that, I have this story to add:
There is a stupid and boring Syrian joke about a person who kept getting drifts of bad stinks while on the bus and kept accusing people of having farted just to discover at the end that the source of the stink is that he actually had shat in his pants without paying attention!!
Soon the son will have changed more ministers, managers, laws, and ordinances in five years than his father did during his thirty years!! He is trying every change, even constantly replacing his father's fundamentalist prisoners by liberal intellectuals!!
Wonder how long is it going to take him to realize where the real stink is coming from?

At 11/16/2004 07:40:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recall Nabil Fayyad writing a ridiculous article for all4syria some time ago with outrageous and highly offensive claims about Islam, which attracted many letters of condemnation, including a moving one from a Syria Christian. Having seen the articles on his website in both arabic and english (with lots of articles of Daniel Pipes) and having read your shining recommendation of him leads me to the conclusion that you are just another American academic with an agenda for Syria dressed up as "objectivity". What a surprise.

At 1/17/2008 11:19:00 AM, Blogger LifeOnaPlate said...

Anonymous: You seem frightened of the power of words. Writing "ridiculous" articles makes one a candidate for ridicule, not prison.

At 6/11/2008 08:36:00 PM, Blogger xicao said...

r we博客
弹簧ew rw


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