It is not easy for me to criticize an American president, irrespective of his ideological background, because when I do, my criticism often get used by all sorts of anti-American forces in the Arab World, and beyond, in their attack against America and American values, that is, the very values which I long came to embrace, albeit always critically. For, to me, America is an idea, a worthy idea, whose advancement requires critical adherence not blind faith, and armies of analysts and scientists not militias and informants.
On November 19, 2012, Sharnoff’s Global Views™ interviewed Ammar Abdulhamid. Ammar is a Syrian dissident and founder of the Tharwa Foundation. He is currently a fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
SGV: On your Website, the Syrian Revolutionary Digest, you are described as “a liberal Syrian pro-democracy activist.” How do you define liberal with respect to freedom, democracy, human rights, minority rights and women’s rights?
AA: I believe in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other international conventions on human rights, such as the Convention Eliminating All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
Inspired by my liberal values I started my “career” as an activist by launching the Tharwa Project in Syria as an initiative meant to facilitate the processes of democratization in the country and the wider region by addressing the issue of minority rights and improving inter-communal relations in the country.
My liberalism also includes a belief in the free market system, albeit my faith is balanced by an equal commitment to union rights and universal healthcare among other checks on the system. Continue reading “Syria’s Delicate Transition: An Interview with Ammar Abdulhamid”
Comment 1: Indeed Arab attitudes towards America are far more complex than traditional media and scholars let on. The fact that foreign policy is not a priority for the Arabs though, should not come as a surprise to anyone; foreign policy is hardly a priority for any people. People’s immediate preoccupation is always with their specific living conditions. But as people understand more and more the intimate linkages between domestic and foreign policy, perhaps their attitudes will change. There is this myth among many Arabs that just because they can name the leaders of so many countries around the world, this, somehow, makes them more knowledgeable about the world, than, say, the American people, who often fail to name even their own leaders. But there is more to knowledge, especially knowledge of foreign policy and world affairs, than naming names. The reality is we are no less ignorant about the world than it is about us. But we are paying the price for our continued ignorance in this regard, because we are the weaker link. Continue reading “Ideas and Sterility”
Comment 1: Even decorum can be approached with ideological passion, and that the desire to remain above the fray, to remain pure, can often be quite hypocritical. For change cannot be wrought out from High Heaven, that’s why “gods” always had interlocutors on the ground and why they often descended there themselves. Change can only be wrought out from within the fray, at the risk of ending up with a guilty conscience. Continue reading “Of Guilt and Hypocrisy!”