The political turmoil in Syria over the past year has mobilized the Syrian expatriate community to form the Syrian American Congress in September 2005. This is a welcome development and although clearly instigated by well-meaning people who would like to see positive, peaceful change happen in Syria, its mission statement is mealy-mouthed and vague. The second clause of its mission statement declares that the Congress supports "human rights, civil liberties and democracy for all people everywhere". For ALL people EVERYWHERE? It is a noble sentiment but the emphasis of the SYRIAN American Congress, you would think, should be on the Syrian people. I wish the statement was less timid and more forthright (easy for me to say, hiding behind my anonymous blog) .
At any rate the Syrian American Congress is holding it first annual conference in Chicago on May 20th. The title of the conference is "Syrian Americans and Syrian Reforms". Among the featured speakers is the human rights activist Radwan Zyada as well as two of the Regime's chief apologists, Syrian ambassador Imad Mustafa and minister of expatriate affairs Bouthaina Sha'ban. It should be interesting and I will be making every effort to attend.