torsdag, februar 09, 2006

Frihedens stemme i Mellemøsten

For de mange der har fundet en oase i mellemøstlige bloggere, som Sandmonkey, ordoesitexplode, freedomforegyptians og Muttawa, kan jeg anbefale Middle East Transparent, hvis stifter Pierre Akel bliver interviewet i det nyeste nummer af Reason Magazine. Denne hjemmeside er fyldt med artikler af intellektuelle fra Mellemøsten, som forsøger at medvirke til realiseringen af et friere klima i regionen. Bl.a. har tre muslimske intellektuelle startet en kampagne for en international straffedomstol for terrorister!.

Efter sigende har siden 50-60.000 besøgende om dagen, mest fra arabiske lande da de fleste artikler, desværre, er på arabisk. Interviewet med Reasons Michale Young er i øvrigt også interessant, idet det giver et noget mere nuanceret billede af Mellemøsten end vi er vant til at få serveret:

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, it seemed to me that Arab
liberals had to take a stand against the barbarian wave threatening to engulf
the region. The danger was imminent. Only, no one could provide a comprehensive
definition of Arab liberal currents. Americans tended to rely on
English-speaking analysts, many of whom live in the United States and Europe. My
friend Barry Rubin has written extensively on Arab liberals. However, Barry does
not read Arabic and has what I call a "pro-Israel bias." He tends to shed a
negative light on Arab liberals. I myself was much more familiar with the
Islamic fundamentalist movement than with liberal currents. I had talked to the
"Londonstan" leaders, read their writings and explored the many fundamentalist
Web sites in Saudi Arabia.

Metransparent was an
attempt to explore such liberal currents as exist inside the Middle East. I
discovered the different strains of Arab liberalism along with my readers. An
independent Web site was necessary in order to allow people to write what they
really had in mind, not merely what they were allowed to write. It was also
necessary as a forum for the diverse currents in the region.

We get our articles by email from practically every Arab country.
Right now we have too many opinion pieces and are late in publishing what we
receive. Most of the authors—we have more than 200—write exclusively for us;
some send their articles to Arabic newspapers and to us, and we publish
complete, uncensored versions. I believe we have something like 25 opinion
articles from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates per
week, a bit more from Egypt, and many more from Syria, which has a formidable
civil society movement. Tunisians also contribute quite a bit, as well as
Moroccans, especially Berber intellectuals, and Yemenis, Algerians,

I am especially proud to say that, soon, half of
our writers shall be women. Usually, I receive letters from potential authors
asking what "our conditions" are for accepting contributions. We answer back
that we are a democratic and liberal Web site, with no censorship or red

The Web site also has a reputation as a forum
for liberal Shiites, both Saudi and Lebanese. But, most importantly, I believe
we are the most daring site in advocating an Islamic Reformation, as represented
by such writers as Gamal Banna [the brother of the founder of the Muslim
Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna], Judge Said al-Ashmawy, and Sayyid al-Qimny, all
from Egypt; and by many writers in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Islamic reformers
are part and parcel of the Arab liberal movement. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are the
two countries where calls for an Islamic Reformation are the most

[...]In the Arab world, much more than in
the West, we can genuinely talk of a blog revolution. Arab culture has been
decimated during the last 50 years. Arab newspapers are mainly under Saudi
control. The book market is practically dead. Some of the best authors pay to
have their books published in the order of 3,000 copies for a market of 150
million. This is ridiculous. Even when people write, they face censorship at
every level—other than their own conscious or unconscious censorship. Meanwhile,
professional journalism is rare.

In the future, I
would like Metransparent to promote tens (or even hundreds) of blogs
representing human rights and activists groups in many Arab cities. This has
already started.

Om den amerikanske invasion af Irak:

Most liberals, at least among our writers, favored the U.S. military
intervention in Iraq. I myself have written articles in support, before and
after the invasion. I didn't support it because of Iraqi WMD, however, but for
democracy. We would have liked President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony
Blair to say openly that they were invading to liberate the Iraqi people.
Remember, even Riad Turk was not against the U.S. intervention. A Syrian, Abdul
Razzaq Eid, who spent most of his life in the doctrinaire Syrian Communist Party
of Khaled Bekdash, even wrote articles welcoming it.

Things changed with the disaster that was Paul Bremer. The U.S.
should have turned things over to the Iraqis immediately after liberation.
Former Pentagon official Richard Perle was absolutely right about this point.
Most liberals still believe the U.S. is serious about democracy, for reasons
explained by Bush in his second inaugural address. Democracy in the Middle East
has become a vital American interest. It's either democracy or many future Osama
bin Ladens striking against U.S. interests.

I admit
some liberals took longer to overcome the Arab-Islamic taboo against approving
foreign intervention. This is increasingly behind us. Yet, what Iraq proved was
that the U.S. could not do the job alone. Internal democratic forces had to be
mobilized. We are part of this "internal" process. I should add that outside
intervention should not only be military. Ideally, we would like something like
the Helsinki Accords, where the international community's relations with the
Arab world involve spreading democracy, defending Arab dissidents, human rights,
women's rights and minority rights. Syrian dissidents have been calling for this
for years. Last year, Metransparent circulated a petition asking the United
Nations to create an International Court to judge the authors of fatwas
condemning people to death

Det er sådanne initiativer, der giver håb om, at vi i fremtiden kan få et Mellemøsten, hvor religiøse fanatikere og kleptokratiske diktatorer ikke præger dagsordnen. Vejen er lang, meget lang, men håb det er der.

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