Nabil Fayyad Arrested
Nabil Fayyad, one of the most courageous and outspoken intellectuals in Syria, was arrested three days ago. Shaken by resolution 1559, the Syrian government may be seeking to intimidate anyone who calls for change. Fayyad, a Sunni Muslim who studied theology in Beirut, was a constant critic of Islamic obscurantism and warned against the growing power of fundamentalism in Syria. When writing on the widely read website, annaqed (The Critic) he could as often be as pointed as he was humorous. In the last few months he became a spokesman for the new "Liberal Gathering" Party in Syria. His smart editorials on the importance of liberalism, individual rights, and personal freedoms are as eloquent as they are moderate. His respect for humanism, learning, and tolerance colors everything he wrote. Several months ago I wrote about his refreshing point of view and exciting articles in my post, "New Voices from Syria."
Tony, at his site "Across the Bay," has written a fine article about Fayyad and the importance of his ideas. Read it here. It is smart and as challenging as Fayyad himself.
Yesterday I received this note from Bassam Darwich, the editor of www.annaqed.com
Dear Joshua; Nabil Fayyad was arrested 2 days ago. Another writer friend of his (Jihad Nasra) was also arrested just yesterday. Please, we need all the support we can get to expose the mistreatment of the intellectuals.
He added the following critique of the US attitude toward Nabil:
I somehow blame the government of the United States for the arrest of Nabil Fayyad. A month ago or so, Nabil applied for a visa to come to the United States for the purpose of giving lectures about the increasing influence of Islamic fundamentalism over the Syrian regime. His application was denied!
Without doubt, this encouraged the Syrian authorities to arrest him as they thought that no one would care much about him if arrested. The American embassy made a terrible mistake in denying him his visa.
The future of Syria depends on courageous people like Nabil who preferred to confront the regime from within rather than from without.
He wanted to come to the States for only one month to speak about what's going on in Syria. Now, the United States must interfere to secure his release and this man must be invited here and be treated like a real hero.
There are many good courageous men doing what Nabil is doing in Syria. Some have great aggressive web sites and still live there. Let us support them now as by supporting them we wouldn't need to sacrifice the life of one American soldier in another war.
Men like Nabil Fayyad are the basis for a secular democratic Syria.
A website about his case his here in Arabic
Bassam Darwich, is exactly right. Only by supporting true free thinkers like Nabil Fayyad does the US stand a chance of effecting real change in Syria. In the long run, it will be the Fayyads of Syria - the luminaries who work to educate at home by challenging old ideas and championing humanism - who change things. Guns can change regimes, but only ideas and education can change society.