The Obama Legacy

Until 2009, nothing seemed to have damaged the relationship between the United States and Muslims across the world more than the 9/11 attacks and the wars that followed. When President Obama was first elected in late 2008, there was hope he would be the one to rebuild that relationship. Continue reading “The Obama Legacy”

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You hate Daesh’s jihad? Know what you’re saying

Many politicians love to call the Islamic State Daesh. They don’t like the group, so Daesh sounds like a good dirty word that fits. Syrian activist Khaled al-Haj Saleh was the one who first used the term to degrade the former al-Qaeda affiliate. It sounded similar to ‘daes’, one who crushes something underfoot, or ‘dahes’, a tumor. Continue reading “You hate Daesh’s jihad? Know what you’re saying”

Arabic as a Feminist Language

“The transition in Syria should also include full participation for women,” said William Hague, the UK’s former foreign secretary at a Syria peace conference. “I welcome the Secretary General’s and Mr. Brahimi’s strong support for the inclusion of women in both delegations.”

Perhaps Mr. Hague didn’t realize how offensive his statement was to most of us. Before Syria attended the Geneva II talks in January 2014, a Syrian delegation headed by Presidential Advisor Bouthaina Shaaban, a woman, was missioned to Russia to discuss the preparations for those peace talks. The message she received from President Putin was that the talks were less likely to be serious due to the lack of an international will for peace in Syria. Therefore, our delegation to Switzerland was headed by Walid Muallem, our foreign minister, an old fat man famous for his quote, “we will drown them in the details, so they’d better learn how to swim.” The presidential advisor confidently sat behind him at the conference. She had already taken the lead in Moscow and now it was up to him to give a slow long boring speech, punishing everyone in the room for isolating Syria for years. Continue reading “Arabic as a Feminist Language”

Digitization and Social Networks (Pros and Cons)

Below is the original draft of a speech I gave on November 23, 2015 — in the framework of the Professional Speaking Skills class, at the University of Graz.

I was nervous and my speech didn’t go according to plan, so the text and the video are not exactly the same.  For YouTube version click here.

[Taking a picture of the podium and sending via WhatsApp it to mother in Syria.]

A few months before I was born, my uncle passed away. Decades before that, when he was my age, he completed his studies in the UK, where he lived for years away from his mother. My mother once told me that grandmother used to ask her to put on Radio London, even though she never understood English. At the time, telephone was not an option, not in the part of Syria where they lived. Somehow, listening to the BBC was the only way my grandmother could relate to her son. Continue reading “Digitization and Social Networks (Pros and Cons)”

The Devil between the Details and the Big Picture

Over the last five years, the Syrian establishment has grown more brutal. Those reforms that were foreseeable in 2011 now seem impossible. Corruption has reached unprecedented levels. The establishment’s values and propaganda have never been as exposed. And yet, my opposition to this regime has faded so much that I no longer know whether I’m learning to be pragmatic or if I’ve resigned myself, given up my former convictions, and, in the end, traded everything for temporary safety.

Read the full article on the Freeman

The Thin Line between Us and the Enemey

“It’s hatred that threatens us all, not bombs or rockets. Tuesday’s Jerusalem attacks make this point very clearly. These attacks should be a wake-up call that no missile defense, gun control or counter-terrorism measures will protect us when hatred prevails. The thing about hatred is that you can’t overcome it by bombing your way out; that always backfires.”

Read the full article on the Daily Caller

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