My friend Dahnon, the “salafi” of free thinking

In the old days in Damascus, Dahnon (as all his friends used to call him: too many Mohameds around!) and I used to sit and engage for hours and hours in discussions about poetry, literature, philosophy. He didnt` have an easy life: he comes from a huge family from Idlib and studied at the Faculty of engineer, despite having a great inclination for literature and poetry. He used to write poems and novels. Despite his passion for literature, he tried to find his own way to make a living by doing different jobs. Life is hard for the “shabab” (youth) in Syria, especially for those like Dahnon, gifted, talented, but without any “wasta” (recommendation).

Yesterday night I got the terrible news that Dahnon was arrested, while he was at a demonstration in Midan, central Damascus. He was a contributor to Lebanese publication as-Safir  where he used to write in the section  dedicated to youth culture.

Dahnon is not a salafi, he is not a terrorist or an agitator. He owns few weapons, though: his words and his thoughts. The Syrian secret service, or whoever arrested him, wants to take these “weapons” away from him, as from the other Syrian people who are only asking to think freely and express themselves.

A massacre was committed yesterday in Idlib, Dahnon`s hometown, while he was arrested. We dont know the exact number, but it`s something outrageous, around 200. Nobody can verify, cause independent reporters are barred from Syria. Those who are inside, like Dahnon, fighting with their words for their freedom, are arrested and prevented from speaking. Who`s gonna tell us the truth if people like Dahnon are taken?

Who`s gonna defend Syria if Syria does not defend people like Dahnon, literature-lovers, free thinkers and not salafis?

How are we expected to believe  the official “salafi conspiracy and armed groups” theory, when each day we see people armed like Dahnon, with thoughts and words, being arrested and silenced?

* A note on the margin: as-Safir, the Lebanese newspaper Dahnon is a contributor to, is traditionally a pro-Syrian regime publication. The last capital injection also confirmed this position. Few days ago, his main investor, Talal Salman wrote an interesting article where he asked the bloodshed and the arbitrary arrests to stop in Syria.  He asks if Bashar al -Assad would be able to put the interests of his country (al watan) above his regime`s (al nizam) interests. I think the answer to this question is pretty clear now that so many old friends are “un-friending” Syria. See also what Saudi backed London based Al Hayat newspaper says today about Hamas and the rumors that his leader Meshaal will be leaving Syria soon (his deputy, Moussa Abu Marzuk, is reported to have left already  for Jordan where he is getting hospitality in exchange of media silence).

Un Hussein alla Casa Bianca. Cosa pensa il mondo arabo di Barack Obama

E’ titolo del libro, curato da me insieme ad Augusto Valeriani, che sarà nelle librerie italiane entro fine mese. Con i contributi di colleghi, collaboratori e amici di sempre quali Enrico De Angelis, Adil Radoini, Jihad N. Fakhreddine, Lawrence Pintak, Amer Al Sabaileh, abbiamo provato a raccontare come il mondo arabo vede Obama e il futuro dei rapporti USA-Medio Oriente.  Abbiamo provato a raccontare non solo lo sguardo di Al Jazeera e dei grandi giornali panarabi – Al Sharq Al Awsat, Al Hayat, Al Quds Al Arabi– sul neoeletto presidente americano; ma anche cosa ne pensano i blogger, i giovani universitari arabi, gli arabo-americani. Viene fuori un ritratto a luci e ombre rispetto a cosa il mondo arabo si aspetta -e non si aspetta- da Barack Obama. Il libro è rilasciato sotto licenza Creative Commons, grazie alla grande disponibilità e lungimiranza della casa editrice Odoya, che lo pubblica. Khaled Fouad Allam ci ha gentilmente fatto l’onore di accompagnare le sue parole -e la sua esperienza personale- alla nostra pubblicazione. Spero che sia utile per capire meglio la situazione attuale e sono grata, insieme a tutti gli altri autori, a chi vorrà acquistare il libro. La licenza Creative Commons non significa che gli autori e lo stesso editore non abbiamo bisogno di essere sostenuti economicamente, anzi! Per chi si trova a Bologna, dovrebbe esserci una presentazione del libro il 26 gennaio, comunque terrò aggiornato il blog per i dettagli.