Sunday, December 04, 2011

Syrian Blogger, Activist Razan Ghazzawi Arrested

The Local Co-ordination Committees activist network say Syrian blogger Razan Ghazzawi was arrested on Sunday at the Syrian-Jordanian border as she was on her way to attend a workshop for defenders of freedom of the press in the Arab world in Amman as the representative of the Syrian Centre for Media and Free Expression (Source: Al-Jazeera English)

In August of this year Razan left a brief comment on a blogpost I had just written after a multiweek hiatus.  "Welcome back!" she wrote. " Thanks Razan" I wrote back, "stay safe".  Indeed, I always worried about her safety seeing how boldly she criticized the Syrian regime's action while living in Syria. She spoke without the shield of anonymity or the comfort of being beyond the reach of the regime's thuggish tactics.

When I started my blog in 2006, I quickly got to know of Razan, one of a handful of Syrian bloggers writing in English.  She was studying in Lebanon at the time.  I was a regular reader of her posts that alternated between being intensely personal to broadly political.  One got a sense of someone with evolving ideas, yet ideas solidly anchored in the belief of fairness, justice and equality.  She was the champion of the poor, the downtrodden and the disenfranchised.  She championed the Palestinian people at every turn.  And because of that, she also sided, at the time, with Hizbollah's "resistance".  On that we disagreed; I saw Hizbollah as an extension of the divisive sectarian politics of Lebanon; their focus on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, I felt, was not genuine but  more a means to an end.

Razan earned my respect because she was never trapped by ideology.  She did not tolerate hypocrisy and was not shy to speak the truth as she saw it, even if it meant changing course. She never backed away from a confrontations taking on religious conservatives and others even it mean enduring vicious verbal attacks.  She has championed migrant workers' rights, women's right as well as  gay and lesbian rights int he Middle East.  Razan, in short, is an original, a trailblazer.  She is among a generation of brave, remarkable young Syrians whose collective, peaceful, efforts will eventually undo one of the most repressive regimes anywhere. 

I hope and pray for her quick and safe return. 

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