A Dialogue on the Middle East and Other Subjects

Anthropoetics 7, no. 2 (Fall 2001 / Winter 2002)

Ammar Abdulhamid (Author & Pro-Democracy Activist, Damascus, Syria) & Eric Gans (French & Francophone Studies UCLA, Los Angeles CA)

Editorial Note: This text was composed in September-October 2001 as an interview intended for publication in the Arabic-language webzine Maaber (www.maaber.com). In part because it clarifies my position on matters that have preoccupied us since September 11, I requested Mr. Abdulhamid’s permission to publish it in Anthropoetics. Taking advantage of what the French call l’esprit de l’escalier, I have appended some additional material in [brackets]. – EG (bio)

Maaber’s editorial team (here and here) have also taken advantage of the same esprit de l’escalier and have appended some commentaries in red. – Dimitri A. Continue reading “A Dialogue on the Middle East and Other Subjects”

On the Psychological Underpinnings of Terrorism


A contribution to an electronic forum

Terrorism, in my opinion, has nothing to do with grievances. Terrorists are but nihilistic pariahs that use the “legitimate grievances” of the people to whom they claim to belong in order to justify their own hateful deeds. Terrorism is related more to the personality and character of the terrorist than it is to his socioeconomic and political environment. Continue reading “On the Psychological Underpinnings of Terrorism”

A Few Notes on Al-Jazeerah’s Role in Covering the War in Afghanistan

Interventions from an international electronic debate

Date: 5 Oct 2001

The recent request by US Secretary Powell of the Qatari Prince to “reign in” al-Jazeerah Network, the “independent” Arab News Network, is rather unfortunate and unwise. Opinions of professional journalists aside, for the average man in the “Arab Street,” al-Jazeerah represents a “democratic” medium through which he can express himself. The sentiments and opinions expressed by the various correspondents of the popular network seem to echo his own. As such, to say that al-Jazeerah fosters or provokes anti-American aggression is really missing the point. It is rather reflecting the anti-American feelings out there. Continue reading “A Few Notes on Al-Jazeerah’s Role in Covering the War in Afghanistan”

A Brief Note on the Roots of Modern Terrorism

The debate on the potential Islamic roots or parallels for the terrorist attacks that took place on September 11 and before, launched and/or coordinated by groups with Islamic affiliations, is making me wonder now, despite my having taken part in it, whether we are not putting too much emphasis on the issue of supposed roots or parallels in Islamic history. Modern terrorism, when you think about it, seems to have a more western origin than anything else.

The tendency itself seems to have begun with the French Revolution but was launched at earnest with the development of anarchist and fascist groups in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Continue reading “A Brief Note on the Roots of Modern Terrorism”