Syria: Journalist Maen Akel Still Detained

Maen AkelMaen Akel, a Syrian journalist, was arrested on November 11th, 2009, by the Syrian Intelligence Department (State Security) in Damascus. Within 48 hours of his arrest he was also dismissed from his work at Al-Thawra, a state owned newspaper. The reason for his arrest remains unknown.

Akel is known for his aggressive and often sarcastic style of writing, criticizing governmental corruption and the hardships affecting the life of the average Syrian citizen. It should be noted that he was a political prisoner for nine years because of his membership in the Communist Labor Bond.

Ever since Akel's arrest, his friends have created and maintained a blog [ar] dedicated to him. In one of the posts, Ali Diob is quoted saying [ar]:

الصحفي عار، كعري كل أحد آخر، و كل شيء، في سورية، أمام سلطة عارية هي الأخرى أمام خوفها، الذي عكست صورته في شهوة مذعورة للتحكم الاستبدادي، حتى بالأموات.

A journalist is naked, like everyone and everything else in Syria, in front of an authority that's in turn naked in front of its fear. A fear that's reflected in a panicked passion for tyrannic control of everything not sparing the dead.

In a different post Mazen Darwish comments [ar] on the ability of individuals in Syria to push the reform process:

أخطأ معن حين صدق , كما صدقنا , و كما صدق الكثيرون . . . أنه رغم قانون الطوارئ من الممكن إحداث فرق ايجابي في الحياة السورية عندما يتعلق الموضوع بالمصلحة الوطنية

Maen made a mistake when he believed, like we and many others believed, that despite the emergency law it is possible to make a positive impact on Syrian lives when it comes to national interest.

Syrian blog حركشات (Harkashat) published an article by Mazen Kom ElMaz in which he said:

ما نزال بانتظار التهم التي ستوجه لمعن , كي نتمكن أكثر من فهم أين يقف معن اليوم من كل ما قاله بالأمس ومن حياته الجديدة ومن سجانيه ومما سيمكنه ( أو لا يمكنه ) أن يكتبه في الغد, لكن ما يبدو حتى الآن أننا أمام رجل انتهى إلى السجن لأنه اعتبر بيوت الفقراء التي فتحت أمامه أبوابها جزءا أصيلا من عالمه, تماما مثل بيته الخاص , لأنه لم يستطع التخلص منهم كجزء من أسرته الشخصية, لذلك يستحق معن منا تنهيدة عميقة, يستحق قلق انتظار صديق حميم

We are still awaiting Maen's charges so we can better understand where he stands today in respect to what he had said, to his jailers, and what he would, or would not, be able to write in the future. We are now facing a man who ended up in jail because he considered the homes of the poor that were open to him an innate part of his world, just like his own home, because he could not abandon them. That's why Maen deserves a deep sigh from us. He deserves the worrisome concern of waiting for a dear friend.

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