Notes on Current Developments in Syria: January 13, 2014

For long activists have contended that the one true concept that captures the essence of what’s really happening in Syria is: Genocide. They referred to regime prisons as concentration camps dedicated to the liquidation of prisoners, most of who civilians, relatives of activists and rebels, and the peaceful pro-democracy activists themselves, the overwhelming majority of whom hail from an Arab Sunni background. Now, this horrific image currently making round on social media sites seem to capture this truth: the numbers on the rotten cadavers, denote the security branch responsible for this massacre. In this case, it’s the infamous Section 215 of the military intelligence apparatus. The emaciated bodies of the dead underscore the living conditions prevailing in the camps. The picture was reportedly smuggled out by a defector, and while its authenticity is yet to be confirmed, it’s consistent with the myriad eyewitness accounts given to Human Rights Watch, among other organizations.  

Continue reading “Notes on Current Developments in Syria: January 13, 2014”

Everything you ever wanted to know – and less – about Syrian underwear

Mention in The Daily Star

Kevorkian’s essay is followed by an interview with the dissident author and democracy activist Ammar Abdulhamid, whose first novel, “Menstruation,” deals with a young Islamist who can smell women’s menstrual blood. It is one of the highlights of the book, with Halasa asking thoughtful, pointed questions that provoke equally thoughtful replies, which add up to a comprehensive briefing on gender relations in Syria. He and his wife now live in the US, where he is a fellow at the Brookings Institution. To no one’s surprise, he dismisses Victoria’s Secret, one of his wife’s favorites, as “lame.” Back in Syria, he says, there “is simply much, much more.”

Getting it Right!

First posted on my short-lived blog Tharwalizations. 

Getting the right to vote is not a guarantor of anything, except a peaceful transfer of power. Women will not necessarily vote for women, and the best candidate in character and message do not necessarily win. Elections are above all about organization. Kuwaiti elections have been a mixed bag, reformist candidates won, but so did Islamist candidates, while not a single female candidate got elected, despite the fact that women were voting for the very first time in Kuwait history. All in all though, another important step on the path of democratization was just taken in Kuwait, but there is still much to learn.

Muslim reformers need to shout

First posted on my short-lived blog Tharwalizations. 

In their first women conference in Hyderabad, India, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind president Dr. Mohammed Abdul Haq Ansari asserted that, “[i]n the name of liberty, women are being sexually exploited and misused for promotion of brands. But reality is that dogs are given better treatment than women in the western countries.” Continue reading “Muslim reformers need to shout”