Free Razan!

My friend Razan Ghazawi has been arrested today at the Syrian-Jordanian border. She was on her way to attend a workshop for advocates of press freedoms in the Arab world.

Razan is an indefatigable campaigner for human rights and freedom of expression in her country. She has been advocating for the rights of political prisoners and minorities in Syria and has always fought for the rights of the Palestinians. She is one of the few Syrian bloggers who writes under her real name.

Razan is the most driven, thoughtful and freedom loving person I have ever met. Tonight I’m really worried about my friend and I ask for her immediate release. Please join the #FreeRazan campaign by spreading the word and showing support.

Please find pictures on the following link that you can use on your blogs or as avatars or as Facebook profile pix http://t.co/3tjhQo3y

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Leading Opposition Figure Gives Seminal Speech, Addressing Syrian People

Borhan Ghalioune, is a well-respected Syrian academic and opposition figure. He lives in France where he works as a professor of political science at the prestigious Sorbonne University. In this video released today, he addresses the Syrian people in his capacity as the chairman of the Syrian National Council, an opposition coalition founded earlier this year following the Syrian uprising.

I had the privilege to meet Mr. Ghalioune earlier this year at a conference in Paris when Syria was still seemingly unmoved by the pro-democracy protests that were beginning to sweep through the region. During that meeting Mr. Ghalioune was specifically asked about the situation in Syria. I remember he gave a foreboding response that in hindsight proves to be terribly accurate. He rejected the prevailing idea at the time that the Syrian people were not ready for change and predicted the kind of appalling violence that the regime was about to unleash on the protesters.

In his address today, Mr. Ghalioune is pledging to not let down the victims of the repression. “We will not negotiate on the blood of the victims and martyrs” he says, adding that “Syria in the future will be a country where the rule of law prevails, and where all are equal before an independent judiciary.”

He added that “The new Constitution will protect the rights of the minorities,” calling for “unity and the end of years of discrimination, injustice and exclusion.”

In the future Syria, he says, “there will be no talk about majority or minority, but only about citizenship and equality, regardless of tribal or ethnic or ideological or sectarian considerations.”

For several months, the Syrian opposition was looking for its soul while facing a repressive and organized regime. Today’s speech may be providing the opposition with the clarity and the consistency it needed so badly. Perhaps more importantly, it provides it with a trusted face through which it can reach out to the Syrian people in its entirety.

A Must Watch: Absolute Power

This is a fascinating, at times chilling documentary from Aljazeera by one of its senior journalists, at least one of my favorite, since his days in the BBC, Rageh Omar, revealing “the tricks of the trade” of Arab dictatorship.