The language of the charges is sickeningly familiar. It is the language that paranoid authoritarian governments use when they feel threatened, when someone tells the TRUTH. They ring hollow as if drawn up by a bored bureaucrat, the same set of charges paraded out thousands of times before; all they had to do was change the name of the accused. And for what? Abdel Kareem just expressed his thoughts, he did not incite or threaten violence, he did not undermine the security of the country. His only true crime is that of having and expressing critical thoughts, an inexcusable deviance for an autocratic and corrupt regime much more difficult to deal with than a bomb tossing terrorist. Citizens of such countries are expected to be subservient automatons without critical thought. They are supposed to act like castrated sheep, bleating meekly and bowing to the almighty, infallible leader, Hosni Mubarak (or Bashar al-Assad, or, or…..).
There will be a joint statement from all Syrian bloggers, accompanied by a campaign to free Kareem.
Why didn't they arrest you?
“Arresting me would have really been problematic, I think. The person who made the decision not to arrest me was Assef Shawkat, head of the Syrian intelligence. You have two problems. One, you are arresting the son of a very famous actress who is very respected in Syria, and who said very clearly at one point, ‘I may not necessarily agree politically with what he's saying the whole time, but if anything happens to him, you know, he's my son.'”
Mosaic`s Rime Allaf has a very intersting article on how the Lebanese politics have been evolving since the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon…
So how long can this corny “my crowd is bigger than your crowd” game go on? I don’t know about you, but I’m all flagged out. And all speeched out as well, especially after having rediscovered that the Lebanese do empty rhetoric (Arabist, nationalist and other) as competently as your leading Baathist, as boringly as your leading regime sycophant, and as convincingly as SANA (Syrian News Agency). Could Saad Hariri have been any less uninspiring? Instead of moving forward, everyone seems to be stepping backward in time and adopting the most ridiculous steadfastness (oh, that hated word) and self-righteousness.
M. A: It's amazing how many cocaine-induced heart attacks we've seen lately
Dr. R: You don't see much back home?
M. A: No. Cocaine abuse is uncommon there.
Dr. R: I bet it's because you behead everybody who uses it.
M. A: Well we have capital punishment for dealers, but it's not beheading.
Dr. R: Yeah you execute drug dealers, but export drugs to countires where infidels live, like the US.
M. A: …
Dr. R: Am I right?
M. A: No, you are absolutely wrong.
Dr. R: Well this happens in Afghanistan.
M. A: Well I am not from Afghanistan.
Dr. R: But you are from a Muslim country, right?
M. A: Yes and it's very different from Afghanistan.
Dr. R: Where are you from?
Arabs are atheists, Jews, Christians, Muslims, agnostic, Buddhists…religion should not shape Arabism, Arabism is not religiously oriented, but rather, in my understanding to it, it is an ideology, a solution against the imperial neo-Zionism in the region. I did not say Israel, Israel can be non-Zionist and only then I can believe in it. Israel should reclaim the right of another people in order for us to believe in it. I am not against Israel in itself; I am against that it is against Palestine. Arabism knows no enemy but injustice, Arabism implies self-recognizing and self-discovery at the same time.
At about 01:30 am on Saturday, we were instructed to ‘Stand Down’, as the Ambulance Service has evacuated the last casualty from the scene.. and you could hear a collective sigh of relief.. We have come through.. as a Team.. as a Department.. as a Hospital.. A job well done.. but no-one could have been more relieved than yours truly!… This was the first time the Plan was ‘tested’, and, on the whole, it seems to have come out well..
To choose one city above the rest and aver that I prefer it over all is most certainly a tenuous avowal. I have had the pleasure of living or passing through many fascinating cities over the years and I have had a transient affair with a few. My feelings are better revealed in French through the words of a forgotten laureate: “J’ai des mémoires de villes comme on a des mémoires d’amour”. I have memories of cities as we have memories of love.