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Syrian Blogsphere: Reform, Arab Nationalism and Travel

The blogosphere seemed a little relaxed the last couple of weeks, after the tense debates over at the Creative Syria‘s Golan Heights Forum.

We start off with, Yaman Salahi, a Syrian blogger studying in UC Berkley. Yaman who created a blog called Lee Kaplan Watch, was being sued for what he was writing, he says…

As a student at UC Berkeley, the center for the Free Speech Movement, I never thought I’d find myself at the receiving end of a politically-motivated libel lawsuit. I am the creator of a blog called “Lee Kaplan Watch” which focuses on analyzing the integrity of Kaplan’s published articles. When he discovered the website, Kaplan began a campaign of intimidation, including e-mail threats of legal action and various online smears alleging that I was a Nazi, a Ba`athist, and a member of al-Qaeda. He threatened to harass me and members of my family, and even went so far as to contact the Dean of Student Life at the university. After asking me to stop writing about his work several times, he finally filed a lawsuit against me in small claims court for “tortious business interference,” libel, and slander.

To move on to another debate that was taking place on the Syrian turf, Abu Kareem from Levantine Dreamhouse, published a mini reform agenda that was suggested by Majhool, one of the commentators on an earlier post, the agenda included many points. These ones were about Lebanon:

2) Lebanon:
a. Support a consolidated pro-Syrian, accountable, & strong government in Lebanon
i. Improve relations with Sunni and Maronite communities
ii. Support the independence of the Lebanese government
iii. Replace the corrupt pro-Syria base of support in Lebanon by more accountable and legitimate (representative) base.
iv. Eliminate all Syrian financial corruption in Lebanon
v. Work with the Lebanese government to gradually and systematically eliminate all armed militias including Hizbollah
vi. Support replacing the confessional system with accountable representative system that will strengthen the Lebanese state

Wassim from Maysaloon, was well opposed to the suggestions, which sparked a heated debate on both blogs, in Wassim‘s reply in his own post, he said

His second point on Lebanon is laughable and sounds like it has come straight from the Pentagon. He begins by talking about supporting a pro-Syrian, accountable and strong government but I assume he is referring to the Syria which is ‘responsible’ enough to make ‘peace’ with Israel. He then lists off a number of demands he feels would make the Syrian government more palatable for his sensitive political taste buds. Of course he wishes the complete dismantlement of Hezbullah, the first real resistance to Israel since 1948 if ever which makes one wonder what passport he holds and if he is even from the region?

Meanwhile, another debate was taking place over at Arab Democracy about the concept of Arab Nationalism. Joseph in his post, seems to think that “‘murdering’ Arab Nationalism will we be able to formulate a better vision for the Middle East, with an Arab dimension at its heart.”

I belong to a Minority in the Middle East. A Religious minority by birth and an Ideological minority by choice. Having been tempted by Arab nationalism in my youth as an alternative to narrow sectarian-minded enterprises with no horizon, I soon came to realize that in practice, far from being a liberating project, it carried in itself the seeds of discord and exclusion.

To close off, we end with another journey of Abu Fares. This time he takes us with him on his 11 day business trip to 5 cities in the old continent next door, Europe.

Eleven days, twelve flights, five cities, lonely nights in strange hotels, exasperating meetings around oak tables, luxurious meals in fine restaurants, dazzling looks of beautiful women and here I am again, back where I have started.

Traveling has always pleasantly surprised me. The anticipation before reaching a new city and the longing to return to mine. The things I would do, the places I would see, the people I would meet and the memories that will creep up on me before I surrender to sleep. Smells, tastes, textures, colors and feelings are fresh and hold my senses like a first encounter with a mysterious woman.

“J’ai des mémoires de villes comme on a des mémoires d’amour”.

1 comment

  • Arman

    Yaman Salahi is not being truthful. He was not engaging in free speech abou the journalist then spread them throughout the Internet. He then sent threatening emails to the writer’s publishers, threatening to ruin thier businesses if they did not stiop publishing Kaplan’s works. This was proven in court. Salahi also ahd free legal help the entire time and a lawyer representing him at the final appeal in Superiror Court where he lost again.

    Salahi had five court hearings heard by three judges who decided against him due to overwhelming evidence and proof that he contradictged himself repeatedly. Unsatisfied with the verdict of the court, he started to claim his free speech rights were violated, started a panic among bloggers and then he had the nerve to ask them to send him money to pay off the judgment against him.

    This person, Salahi,serves nothing in the interest of free speech or the reputation of Arabs in the world. He is little more than a con artist and terribly self-serving individual.

    A webblog was set up to show the other side. I suggest people see it:
    http://www.leekaplandeconstructsleekaplanwatch.blogspot.com

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