Syria Requires Arabization of Names

Ibrahim Hamidi, writing in al-Hayat, makes fun of the new Syrian law that requires all names to be pure Arabic.

Dr. Mahmoud al-Sayyid, the President of The Committee for Improving the Arabic Language, a committee established to meet the requirements of Syria having been selected as the "capital of Arab culture" for 2008, is in charge of policing this new law.

La Noisette restaurant is now named al-Bunduqa

Neutron is now Nawat

La Fontana is now al-Nafoura

Ibrahim warns parents of newborns to make sure that they choose pure Arabic names. No more Michel, Emile, Eduard, Joyce, Joel, or Mart. These are all popular names among Christians. Hamidi does not know whether these names are now illegal, but if the law is applied consistently, they will be.

The committee has also explained that actors and TV dramas will have to move away from the spoken language and common Syrian dialect to classical Arabic, which would destroy the popularity of many local shows. Hamidi mentions "Bab al-Hara," the massively popular TV series broadcast this Ramadan, which resurrected the local dialect and manners of Syria in the 1930s. Such a series could be made impossible to produce if new laws are enforced.

بدأت بأسماء المحلات ورياض الأطفال لتطاول الدراما السورية وأسماء المواليد؟ … حملة لـ «تنصيب» دمشق عاصمة للغة العربية… الفصحى
دمشق – ابراهيم حميدي الحياة – 28/12/07//

من الآن فصاعداً، اذا أراد أحد الديبلوماسيين في دمشق تناول غداء عمل في مطعم «لافونتانا» الايطالي في حي المزة، جنوب دمشق، عليه ان يبحث عن مطعم يحمل اسم «النافورة». وعلى من يريد، في سورية، تسمية مولوده اسماً اجنبياً، الحذر والبحث عن اسم عربي قح. كذلك حال ابطال الدراما السورية الذين يتوجب عليهم البدء بالتكيف تدريجاً للتحدث بلغة وسط بين المحكية والفصحى قبل الانطلاق الى المرحلة الثانية القائمة على الحديث بلغة فصيحة فقط. هذه بعض النتائج التي يتوقعها رئيس «لجنة تمكين اللغة العربية» الدكتور محمود السيد، لمناسبة اختيار «دمشق عاصمة عربية للثقافة» للسنة 2008.

وكان مقرراً ان تنجز اللجنة التي ترفع تقاريرها الى نائبة الرئيس السوري للشؤون الثقافية نجاح العطار، مسودة قانون يقضي بالتزام كل الوزارات والمؤسسات العامة والخاصة توصياتها و»وضع خطة بغية الارتقاء باللغة العربية»، لكن تقررت العودة الى «قانون حماية اللغة العربية» الصادر العام 1952.

وبموجب التعليمات الجديدة، فإن اسماء الفنادق والمحلات ذات الصفة العالمية، يجب ان تكتب باللغة العربية الى جانب الاجنبية. ويوضح السيد: «اذا كان اسم المحل اجنبياً (لكن ليس جزءاً من سلسلة عالمية) يجب تعريبه وان يوضع الاسم باللغة العربية أولاً». ويعني هذا ان المطعم الدمشقي الشهير «نيوترون» صار اسمه «النواة» مع تقديم لهذا الاسم. كما هي الحال مع سلسلة مقاهي «لا نوازيت» التي بات اسمها «البندقة».

ولا تشمل هذه التعليمات اسماء المطاعم والفنادق فحسب، بل تمتد الى الانتاج الثقافي والتعليمي والاعلامي، اذ اشار رئيس اللجنة الى ان «التوجه هو ان تكون المواد الاعلامية والدرامية بالفصحى، لكن بالتدرج وقدر الامكان وليس دفعة واحدة… نريد روح العامية وثوب الفصحى».

هل هذا يعنى ان الجزء الثالث من مسلسل «باب الحارة» الشامي سيكون بالفصحى؟ وكيف سيتحدث «العقيد» الى «ابو عصام» والأخير لزوجته سعاد؟ الاجوبة رهن تنفيذ هذا الاتجاه وسرعته وما اذا كان سيشمل جميع الانتاج الدرامي أو بعضه، كما هي الحال مع مسلسل «سقف العالم» الذي مزج بين المحكية والفصحى، وشارك اخيراً مخرجه نجدت انزور وكاتبه حسن يوسف في ندوة عن «دور الدراما السورية في تمكين اللغة العربية».

وتشمل «الخطة الوطنية» ايضاً التدخل في اعلانات الطرق، بحيث تمنع الاعلانات باللغة المحكية او باخطاء املائية او قواعدية، اضافة الى تدخلها في الجمل والعبارات التي تكتب على السيارات الخاصة او العامة. واشار الدكتور السيد الى «مثال حي: هناك شعار يقول: دارك داريها. اننا نريد تصحيحه بحيث يصبح: دارك دارها».

وكانت اللجنة خاطبت ايضا وزارة الاوقاف طالبة اشتراط موافقتها على تعيين خطباء المساجد بناء على قدرتهم على التحدث باللغة الفصحى، لأن الاتجاه هو لإلزام الخطباء «القاء الخطب بلغة فصيحة وصحيحة وتناول قضايا معاصرة». وزاد السيد: «يجب ايضاً على المعلمين التحدث بالفصحى. ليس فقط اساتذة اللغة العربية، بل جميع الاساتذة. لا نطلب لغة مقعرة او لغة ابي حيان التوحيدي بل لغة فصيحة وبسيطة» على ان تبذل جهود لتعديل المناهج التربوية للوصول الى «لغة الحياة وليس لغة وحشية».

وبحسب رئيس اللجنة، فإن الخطة تهدف ايضا الى تأهيل المشرفين على رياض الاطفال لـ «البدء بهم وتعليمهم» بالتوازي مع الزام سائقي الباصات التحدث معهم… بلغة فصحى. وقال: «نريد كل ما تقع عليه عين الطفل في الحافلات والمحلات والمدارس والشوارع والتلفزيون والمطعم، ان يكون فصيحا» وصولا الى الجامعات الخاصة التي يدرس بعضها باللغة الانكليزية.

وهل يعني هذا منع أي شخص من تسمية ابنه اسما اجنبيا؟ أجاب السيد: «لم نتعرض لهذا الأمر. لكن الطبيعي ان تكون الاسماء عربية ولها دلالات عربية وليست اسماء اجنبية»، مشيراً الى ان البعض شاور اللجنة في تسمية محله اسم «كليوبترا» فأجابته بالموافقة كما هي الحال مع اسم «ملقة» لأنه «عربي أصيل»!

Comments (35)


1. Bashmann said:

Josh,

Thanks for this post. It reminds me of the days of the late Hafez Assad. Syria has always been keen on being the guardian of the Arabic language which causes its medical student graduates to go bunker when they leave Syria seeking specialization degrees in Western countries.

I was expecting some sort of backlash from the cultural ministry under the leadership of Dr. Attar against the effects of globalization on the country sooner and to a lesser degree, this is more than comical. The new Arabic names requirement and the school childern bus drivers being forced to speak to the kids in classical Arabic, are the ultimate stupidity. It just shows the naiveté of the technocrats in the government. It certainly speaks volumes about Syrian “Arab” pride which borders on arrogance.

It sounds to me like the old guards of Arab Nationalists are still at it in the halls of government. Surely some things never change.

Cheers

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 29th, 2007, 5:51 pm

 

2. Alex said:

This is not doable… and it definitely won’t be popular.

Was Ibrahim being sarcastic to some extent? I hope so.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 29th, 2007, 5:56 pm

 

3. أمنية said:

gosh i can’t stop laughing!!
la noisette has changed its name!!!
ppl go there coz of the name!!

but seriously,i support part of this decision concerning teaching in schools and in colleges.
as for the series , i don’t think they mean it. coz i think one of the reason the syrian series have spread so fast around alwataan al3arbi is coz of the syrian accent, which every arab now is so fond of it.
and coz ppl are bored with the egyptian accent which we had no other alternative for more than 15 years.
as for the hotels’ and resturants names, i actually don’t like the idea of seeing most of these known resturants with latin letters above the doors. i mean why do we use english or french for ? is it our language?i’d rather see arabic letters .

now the article has made a mistake with bab alhara coz this series was a saudi production i think, so the syrians have no authourity on it, so the writer doesn’t have to worry about it.

but as for the babies names. naaaa, if this ever happens , this would be so silly.
thanks for sharing this

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 29th, 2007, 8:07 pm

 

4. أمنبة said:

gosh i can’t stop laughing!!
la noisette has changed its name!!!
ppl go there coz of the name!!

but seriously,i support part of this decision concerning teaching in schools and in colleges.
as for the series , i don’t think they mean it. coz i think one of the reason the syrian series have spread so fast around alwataan al3arbi is coz of the syrian accent, which every arab now is so fond of it.
and coz ppl are bored with the egyptian accent which we had no other alternative for more than 15 years.
as for the hotels’ and resturants names, i actually don’t like the idea of seeing most of these known resturants with latin letters above the doors. i mean why do we use english or french for ? is it our language?i’d rather see arabic letters .

now the article has made a mistake with bab alhara coz this series was a saudi production i think, so the syrians have no authourity on it, so the writer doesn’t have to worry about it.

but as for the babies names. naaaa, if this ever happens , this would be so silly.

thanks for sharing this

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 29th, 2007, 8:12 pm

 

5. ANNIE said:

In my country (Belgium) we went thru that : people were speaking their “amiye” and “classical” Dutch was scorned.
Each region and town had its own dialect, so that students studying at Gent university for instance HAD to speak proper Dutch to understand one another.
I saw this happen in Syria to day in Lattakia where Allawis speak fousha in order to communicate with non Allawis. At least, this was my experience.
In Belgium, things have changed a lot and the younger generations speak generally proper Dutch now, but this did not happen overnight.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 29th, 2007, 8:23 pm

 

6. Wassim said:

I like the idea of reviving and improving the level of Arabic spoken and written, firstly with myself and in secondly in general. Laws like this however, verge on the stupid and waste everyones time. Not only that, but ramming something like this down peoples throats only makes them resent it. Still, let’s see where this goes – it might actually work if enough people see it’s benefit and support it.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 29th, 2007, 8:47 pm

 

7. Nur al-Cubicle said:

Mussolini issued such an order for cosmopolitian Trieste, western Croatia and Istria in the early 1930′s: Italianization was the order of the day. Gladovich became Gladioli, Gherbaz became Garbassi, Valentich Valenti, etc. Despite the Slavic last names, most of these people considered themselves 100% Venetian (as in Veneto, the region) and didn’t kick up much of a fuss.

Mussolini _hated_ British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, to the point that any hotel or movie theater called, “Eden”, had to change to “Paradiso”.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 29th, 2007, 9:22 pm

 

8. t_desco said:

New bin Laden message key to solving Fatah al-Islam mystery?

Bin Laden says U.S. seeks to exploit Iraq
Vows to expand jyhad, support Palestinians

Bin Laden also vowed that Islamist militants will expand their holy war to liberate Palestinian land and said his group will not recognize Israel.

The Saudi-born militant also criticised Iran-backed Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah for accepting the deployment of United Nations forces in south Lebanon after the Shi’ite group’s war with the Jewish state in 2006.

He said in a recording posted on the Internet on Saturday that peacekeepers dispatched to expand a U.N. force in Lebanon after the war were there to “protect the Jews. …
Reuters

By “Fatah al-Islam mystery” I mean the question why Islamists from so many different countries all came to Lebanon and gathered in Nahr al-Bared to join the new organization. Why did an obscure group in a Palestinian refugee camp have the symbolic capital to attract all these people?

Was it bin Laden’s plan to open a direct front with Israel? Did he secretly encourage the movement of fighters to Lebanon? A study by the SITE Institute certainly seemed to suggest at least some involvement of the Saudi branch of al-Qa’ida in the formation of Fatah al-Islam.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 29th, 2007, 9:27 pm

 

9. majedkhaldoun said:

arabic language is a great one, at the legislative committee in Colorado,I suggested that high school will be required to provide arabic language classes in their school,if 15 student or more ask to learn it, currently we are looking for a lawyer to write this amendment,this will be done at no cost to the students.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 29th, 2007, 9:49 pm

 

10. trustquest said:

Majedkhaldoun, this is already happening in Fairfax Co, VA, any school if a group of students are enough to form a class in their native language, the school will help them.

Syria decision is too late and just for propaganda because of the 2008 cultural year they are talking about. They should have done this 5 years ago, before the spreading of the internet chat rooms where no one is talking classic Arabic anymore. Also, they should have not isolated the country for so long where now they have couples of billions words need to be translated. The Arabic language will die under their eyes, like it or not.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 30th, 2007, 12:28 am

 
 

12. Rev Michel Nahas said:

It seems quite stupid in my opinion.

I don’t speak arabic, because I wanted to learn Syrian Arabic (Levatine Dialect, right?) but there are no courses for that. I am a Syrian Brazilian (3rd generation), and I went to Sao Paulo University to learn Arabic. I came back home, tried to practice MSA with relatives, and they laughed on my face! But how is one to decide what is right,m or wrong arabic? Are we to condemn Scottish people because they have a weird accent? Aren’t they speaking that type of English way before America existed? Same with Portugal and Brazil, where there are 7 million speaking (the right) Portuguese, and 200 mil speaking Brazilian Portuguese.

You cannot legislate language! There is a rich Syriac culture behind Syrian Arabic. It feels like the end of secularism and religious neutrality in Syria. I am VERY sorry for that!

Isn’t the Syrian dialect also spoken in Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan? Excuse my ignorance on the matter, but let’s hope peole will see the light!

Mike

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 30th, 2007, 4:37 am

 

13. ausamaa said:

Are we jumping the gun a little bit too early?

Whatever appeared above is supposedly a mere “reccomendation” by a Cultural Committee, submitted to a VP who is practically an ex-Cultural Affairs or Education Minister. It has not been discussed, adopted, or approved, or implemented yet, and it is doubtful that it will ever be put forward to any serious discussion.

It is similar in its “idealistic approach” to any wish-list that can be expected to be submitted by a Green Peace advocacy group to the Enviromental Protection Agency.

Come to think about it, it is not a far cry away from the infamous call by some in the US to change the name of French Fries to American Fries or Freedom Fries during the days of hot exchanges following the Bush invasion, sorry, liberation of Iraq, between Rumsfeld and the Old Continent in late 2003 and 2004. And Arabizing La Fontana’s restaurant name in the Damascus telephone directory would surely be a lot easier than changing the billions of Menues in US restaurants to read Freedom Fries instead of Frensh Fries.

Is it not?

But a verrrry important article indeed! Helps end the Year on a lighter note that beats spending New Year’s Eve discussing the more scarier possibilities, or probabilitues, of wether Damascus Int’l Airport would be bombed or not should Bush patience runs out more, or worrying about hair-raising Sarkozy-like threats to Damascus!!! No bun intended of course!

Happy New Year to all.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 30th, 2007, 6:52 am

 

14. Leila said:

This reminds me of my favorite new bugaboo – read aloud to children, even ones who can already read, to increase their cognitive and verbal skills. It turns out that the act of listening to text read aloud develops cognition; one reason is that children can listen to and understand texts more difficult than their reading ability. Listening to more difficult texts increases their vocabulary and the complexity of their thinking. (See Jim Trelease) This research was done in English, so I don’t know how it would apply to a language in which the spoken dialect varies so greatly from the classical, literary language.

However it would seem to follow that if you want the kids to understand fusha, they should hear it a great deal. Immerse them in it.

Okay, it’s silly to change the most popular TV series, especially if it’s about regular folk: they would spout off in elegant classical dialect while fighting over money or women or whatever they do on that show. So leave the popular, “vulgar” show alone. But if you want the kids to be more literate in classical Arabic, they need to hear more classical Arabic read aloud and/or spoken.

OTOH I doubt that any government can enforce this kind of linguistic purity. Look at the poor French. THey are always trying to legislate away Anglicisms and it just doesn’t work. Steak Frites, anyone? And yes, our own government was stupid enough to try to legislate “Freedom Fries.” Dumb, dumb.

Back to the fusha side – my late father loved Arabic and would speak in classical at the drop of a hat. His dialect also sounded more clear to me than that of regular folk from our village. I understood him better – his articulation was clear and you could hear the words. He was something of a stickler about not combining English (or French) with Arabic in a sentence – he would only use an English word if discussing an extremely technical matter.

And yet after he died, a man in Palestine sent me a scan of a poem Dad wrote for him on a sheet of paper, by hand, which was all in darij (dialect). I was surprised that it was much easier for me to comprehend than his usual poems – hey, I understand darij okay, can read the alphabet, but am very weak in fusha.

Since he’s left us (God rest his soul), I have to ask the rest of you – what do you call a computer in classical Arabic?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 30th, 2007, 7:26 am

 

15. Innocent Criminal said:

even if this is just a suggestion, they’re a bunch of morons for suggesting it

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 30th, 2007, 8:18 am

 

16. idaf said:

Leila,

The word “computer” in classical Arabic is حاسوب (hasoob). This is the official word by academic and practitioners (media, private sector ..etc.) alike. This is accepted by the Arabic Language Assembly in Damascus (the official Arab league linguistic entity).

This word has taken different forms in the last 20 years and it now stabilized on this form as the most accurate and most practical linguistically.

On the Arabization of names issue, I totally agree with Ausama. This is just something thrown by a special committee that was established to come out with recommendations for the Arab Cultural Capital 2008 festivities. Not even the uber-nationalist Baathis of Hafez days had dared to do this.

But I commend Ibrahim Hamidi for making fun of the potential implication of this if taken too strictly by any government official that wants to score some popularity points among the nationalist pan-Arabist masses.

If this takes place, Camille Alexander (our own Alex) should start finding a new middle name or Arabizing it.. I suggest “Camille Al-Iskandar”.. it would make him sound as medieval hero or a pre-historical god :-)

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 30th, 2007, 10:03 am

 

17. offended said:

Aussama:
“No bun intended of course!”

I think you meant to say ‘Pun’ there, unless the bun was really intended?

Ha ha ha!

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 30th, 2007, 10:38 am

 

18. ausamaa said:

Offended

Right, Pun it is, but I guess it was early morning and I was thinking of food, the La Fontana restaurant I guess.

And sure, the Pun is intended!

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 30th, 2007, 10:54 am

 

19. omar said:

I do agree with WISSAM, it’s definitely a good thing that among the Arab countries there are still people who are worried about the gradual demolition of Arabic language from the world surrounding us. For names of places I completely agree, as I am VERY annoyed how everybody who opens a new store in Amman or Jordan as a whole tends to jump to naming it some fancy English or Italian name – why?

It’s good to keep the beauty of Arabic alive, yet I think it’s quite ridiculous for names of PEOPLE, so yeah, I do agree for it to be applied partially as to commercial stores and such. This is my personal opinion…

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 30th, 2007, 11:34 am

 

20. George Ajjan said:

Just as foreign technical terms came into Arabic through Greek in centuries past, today’s globalism brings Western European words. It’s entirely consistent with Syrian history.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 30th, 2007, 1:27 pm

 

21. idaf said:

George,

It’s entirely consistent with global history of knowledge transfer. Greek terms into Arabic, Arabic into Latin (Algorithm, Zero, etc.), and now the cycle is reversed again, Western into Arabic and Greek.

I have no doubt that in the [distant] future, the cycle will re-reverse and terms will be transferred again from Arabic, Greek or Chinese (most likely) into Latin based languages.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 30th, 2007, 2:49 pm

 

22. Firas Azmeh said:

With all due respect, most of the comments are off the mark. This new law is yet another nail in the coffin of our Syrian character and identity.

First, on the cultural side, the whole 35-year drive toward Arabization is costing us Syrians A LOT. Our dialect is what distinguishes us apart from other “Arabs”. Already, the Arab Nationalists have conditioned most Syrians to refer to themselves as “Arab”, rather than Syrian. We refer to Syria as “Qutur” rather than a country. We refer to our food as Arabic food, even though no other Arabs (with the possible exception of Lebanese) share it with us. In short, we’ve lost our “Syrian” identity, and now they want to finish it off by wiping out our only remaining distinguishing feature – our dialect?? Behind this dialect lies the distinct Syrian character that differentiates us from the damn nomads in the Gulf, the people of Egypt & Sudan or our friends in North Africa. Behind our beautiful dialect, which took hundreds (if not thousands) of years to develop, lies our unique sense of humor and sarcasm, and our nuanced outlook to life.

On the practical side, due to this impotent and misguided policy of Arabization, the government has shunned the teaching of foreign languages in favor of Arabic-only learning. As a result, Syria harvested 2 generations ignorant of foreign languages, which set the country back, and caused pain to those who wanted further training and specialization abroad. This policy is also impractical and self-defeating. The fact is that neither Syria, nor the ‘Arabs’ produce new knowledge, and they consume very little of it. So, it is natural that the massive quantity of new vocabulary in all technical fields is native to the languages of the producing cultures (English, French, etc.) So ignorance of foreign languages (especially English) is a major obstacle in the way of basic knowledge, education, training, etc. Think of Syrians who speak only Arabic today: If they are interested in self-development and knowledge, how can they “Google” anything? How can they do any search on the Internet? How can they refer to any recent publication in a library, other than the select few already translated? Indeed, today, most Syrians are relegated to the few outdated texts translated decades ago, not to mention that many subtleties are likely to be lost in their translation. Furthermore, if we agree that, beyond being a tool for communication, a language is a window to a culture, then the lack of foreign language fluency over the past 2 generations has prevented Syrians from peering into, and learning from other cultures, their experiences and successes.

I am for the preservation of the Arabic language because, today, it is the language of Syria. However, we have to be realistic, practical and even strategic about these issues. We live in a different time where everything happens at Web speed. The fact is that Arabic is not a dynamic language that can be easily adaptable to the fast-changing world of today. Even the newer and flexible English language is challenged to keep up with the advancements in technology that are impacting popular culture. We are seeing thousands of words being added to the English language on a daily basis. Are you telling me that we have to convene the dinosaurs of the Majma3 El-lugha el-3arabiya so they can debate new words and concepts they don’t understand before they officially decide what it’s Arabic equivalent needs to be? What idiocy!

What about business and creativity? As it is, we struggle with creativity because of cultural rigidity. Now, we add legislation to it. Brilliant. This has more negative impact on business than meets the eye. Do you know what the official translation for database is? Qawa3ed el-bayanat. Does this make sense? Can it be used practically? Can it be manipulated? What the hell does it mean natively? They translated literally the words ‘data’ and ‘base’, because these Arabic ‘experts’ are only good at reciting Al-Mutanabbi and Emro2 el-Qaiss, but probably don’t know how to log on to the Internet. The official translation for Radio is “Methya3″. Think about the implications of that, in terms of all the words that ‘radio’ can be a part of…from radioactive to radiofrequency, to so many others.

What Syria needs more than anything is some differentiation and ‘branding’. Seriously. Syria needs to develop its own brand, that distinguishes it from the other Arabs and highlights its uniqueness and promotes its character. This is extremely important in an environment competing intensely for business opportunities, investment, tourism and mindshare. Otherwise, we are virtually the same (indeed, behind) the rest of the ‘Arabs’. The best thing that happened to Turkey was Ataturk’s changing the Turkish alphabet in 1921. Think of the massive ROI (Return on Investment) of that project over the past 85 years. I don’t suggest that Arabic should do the same, but at least, let’s not actively work toward further diluting our character and putting our people at further handicaps. What we need is strategic leadership and intellectual horsepower to set a strategy to preserve the Arabic language, that encourages (not stifles) business and promotes (not eradicates) our character.

These ridiculous experiments are being undertaken at a serious cultural, political and economic detriment to our country’s character and our people’s development. And it’s because we have a bunch of ill-educated, provincial and backward Neanderthals making strategic decisions, whose implications they are too ignorant to understand. I don’t know much about this “Dr.” Mahmoud Sayyid, but I bet you he’s got a big bushy mustache and a comb-over, and has never heard of a blog.

Firas

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 30th, 2007, 3:00 pm

 

23. t_desco said:

“The Way to Contain the Conspiracies” – An Audio Message from the Head of Al-Qaeda, Usama bin Laden, Issued by As-Sahab Media – 12/2007

Bin Laden raises similar points to those in his last speech on the subject of Iraq, “To Our People in Iraq”, that the Mujahideen must dismiss partiality to a patron, country, or leader, and rather be zealous for their religion and the establishment of the Shari’a, or law, of God.

He also argues that groups that receive patronage from a foreign state are constrained by that state’s wishes, be it Saudi Arabia, United States, or Iran. Iran is taken as an example in the case of Hezbollah and its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, in the conflict with Israel in 2006. Bin Laden demonstrates that Hezbollah, like some groups in Iraq such as Hizb Al-Islami (Islamic Party), deceive people in the interest of a patron. He claims Hezbollah acted intentionally against Israel so as to execute a UN Resolution allowing “Crusader” forces into Lebanon, effectively closing the border from Mujahideen to enter Palestinian territories because this was Iran’s desire.

Outside of the Iraq focus, bin Laden speaks in regard to Palestine, stating that the Jihad will expand to its territories and “we did not forget you after the events of September 11th… Can a person forget his people?”. Currently the Mujahideen fight the “heart” of global disbelief in Islam, America, and its “agents” in Iraq, Afghanistan, North Africa and Somalia, but will ultimately come to Palestine. Bin Laden decries those who recognize the existence of Israel and have sacrificed land to it, including the “defeatists” at Annapolis. He also calls upon Muslims to support the Jihad by all they can, warning: “Today Baghdad and tomorrow Damascus, Amman, and Riyadh, so fear Allah and do not be afraid to assign blame… The support of the truthful Mujahideen, especially in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Africa, and Somalia is the project of the whole Ummah, and it is its first line of defense against all of its enemies.”

SITE Institute

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 30th, 2007, 3:30 pm

 

24. Akbar Palace said:

Bin Laden raises similar points… He also argues that … Outside of the Iraq focus, bin Laden speaks in regard to Palestine, stating that…

T_DESCO,

I see you study the words of Bin Laden with great attention and care.

Why do you think Bin Laden’s message is so important?

Professor Josh,

I see Syrian freedoms are being curtailed again. Hey, whatever it takes. Perhaps all newborn males should be required to be named Bashar.

Anyway, feel free to comment on the lastest French government decision to curtail talks with the steadfast Syrian regime.

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2007/12/30/worldupdates/2007-12-30T195512Z_01_NOOTR_RTRMDNC_0_-311750-2&sec=Worldupdates

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 30th, 2007, 3:49 pm

 

25. Observer said:

This not news worthy of comment. In the past the same trend did happen and the Restaurant Versailles became Alfursan. It is a bone sent to the few die hard Baathists and a new topic that the people will be distracted with for a while.

Now, Sarko le premier has stopped all contacts with Syrian officials: La montagne accouche d’une souris. Whether to have contacts or not is not important; it is who does what in the region. The struggle over the form and content of the goverment in Lebanon has stalled all life in that country. Lebanon is a distraction as more grave and ominous developments are occuring in Pakistan Afghanistan and Iraq.

Despite the surge, the US has slowly replaced Saddam in dealing with the various factions in the country. Even though the violence is down, this means that the US troops will have to stay in large numbers for a long time while at the same time, the Iranian keep on infiltrating the region and essentially weaving a carpet and a web around the American presence. The US cannot wack the Iranians or the Syrians and cannot do without them. The Saudis have done the US bidding and they have nothing to show for it and have no other tricks up their bag. Egypt is precarious and La Vache qui Rit is interested in putting Gamal in his place and nothing else.

I always thought that Al Qaeda will be best dealt with by other Sunnis and no one else and this is proving to be the case. In contrast to GWB who abandoned his ideologically driven policy and opted to follow the advice of his father’s experts, OBL and Co are still in their ideological world.

If Pakistan drifts and Musharraf does not seize the moment, his position will be weakened and the army will have even less of a chance of controlling the country. The move from the tribal ares into the cities of militancy is an ominous sign of worse to come.

These news are much more worthy of note than the Arabization of names.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 30th, 2007, 4:58 pm

 

26. Georges said:

As someone whose name is Georges, I think the new law is VERY worthy of discussion. This post is about the Arabization of Names, so no need to distract with your Ossama Ben Laden comments. THAT is what’s not newsworthy.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 30th, 2007, 5:06 pm

 

27. EHSANI2 said:

Syrians need better “foreign” language skills. I think their mastery of Arabic is already sufficient, thank you very much

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 30th, 2007, 5:11 pm

 

28. Bashmann said:

Firas,

Wonderfully put. Thank you.

Cheers

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 30th, 2007, 6:00 pm

 

29. t_desco said:

AKBAR PALACE,

you ask why I think that Bin Laden’s message is important.

Well, first of all I believe that he still got a lot of influence over his followers and while he may not be involved in the planning of concrete attacks he is probably able to “set the strategy”.

French scholar Olivier Roy has repeatedly argued that al-Qa’ida is simply paying lip service to the Palestinian cause, and I believe that while it was right in the past, this may be changing; at least, al-Qa’ida may be trying to change it, notably by opening a direct front with Israel. I already explained how this could explain the Fatah al-Islam phenomenon.

In the excerpt provided by the SITE institute, bin Laden stresses the independence of his organization from influence and patronage by any state. I repeatedly quoted Abu Musab al-Suri saying exacly the same thing, yet commentators in Lebanon like to claim that al-Qa’ida is collaborating with Syria (without offering any shred of evidence).

Bin Laden also makes clear that the “Crusader forces”, the UN troops in southern Lebanon continue to be in the crosshairs of his organization, yet Michael Young simply blamed the attacks on Syria.

I hope that this answers your question.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 30th, 2007, 6:10 pm

 

30. t_desco said:

France to halt links with Syria

France is to suspend diplomatic contacts with Syria, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced.

Links will be restored only when France has proof that Syria is not blocking progress towards installing a consensus president in Lebanon, Mr Sarkozy said.

“I ask Syria to… work to create agreement,” said Mr Sarkozy.

France “will not make any more contacts with Syria… as long as there is no proof of Syria’s willingness to let Lebanon choose a consensus president,” he told reporters, during a visit to Egypt. …
BBC News

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 30th, 2007, 6:13 pm

 

31. idaf said:

Firas Azmeh (by the way are you the same Firas the singer?!),

I understand your frustration, BUT, the bottom line is what Ehsani said: “Syrians need better “foreign” language skills. I think their mastery of Arabic is already sufficient”.

That’s correct, the Arabic education in Syria is so good and respected in the Arab world (I’m talking from numerous first-hand experiences outside Syria). This should not change. Arabic should still be the language of teaching Science, Engineering and Medicine (as the case in Denmark, Israel and all western countries). However, continues enrichment through a systematic translation movement should be conducted, not by the Arab League or the government, but publishing houses, the media and philanthropic foundations (which taking place in an amazing magnitude in the last couple of years in Syria and other Arab countries).

As Ehsani rightly characterize the problem, the issue here is the extremely bad foreign language education (although that has been changing dramatically in the last few years as you notice from the younger Syrians English language abilities). Yes maybe 2 generation found harder time studying outside, but the problem is not the language of the education, it is the education approach itself. Go and see the huge amounts of Chinese studying in European and US universities. The overwhelming majority of those Chinese have extremely bad English language. Most did not study a word of English before joining crash English language courses in China few months before joining the western universities. However, the scientific foundation was good.

As someone who wet through the Arabic Syrian higher education system (as the case of many well-educated people here), I assure you that the scientific Arabic language skills that I gained in Syria were huge assets in my professional life (and many others) not the opposite.

I have many grievances with the Syrian education system, being conducted in Arabic is absolutely not one of them.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 30th, 2007, 9:37 pm

 

32. Firas Azmeh said:

IDAF,

I think it’s the essence of my post that we need more foreign language skills, and not more Arabic. But, the bigger point I was making is that it’s the attitude and mentality behind the Arabization law that is the problem – and it goes beyond just education. That said, a few points related to your post:

1. I don’t care about what other “Arabs” say about the Arabic-language education in Syria, and even less about a non-scientific third-hand account of it. If I were to benchmark, I’d do so against a respectable system, not another deficient one.

2. Arabic should NOT be the MAIN language of science, engineering or any other technical fields. I’ve explained why that is a virtual impossibility, if your objective is a high-quality and dynamic education that prepares people to be competitive (regionally, let alone globally).

3. I agree with you that Arabic should be translated by publishing houses mainly, though that’s unlikely due to poor demand for reading in general. However, the point of the article above is that the government is mandating and legislating Arabization exclusively, including the replacement of the Syrian dialect by classic Arabic. That said, I am not sure what you’d consider an “amazing magnitude” in translating texts into Arabic. Today, Spain alone translates several times the number of books and publications into Spanish as the entire “Arab” World combined.

4. I fundamentally disagree with you on the quality of technical education in Syria. This is a fallacy that everyone in Syria likes to repeat, to the point that it has been accepted as fact. I can’t dispute that what you learned has been good for you, but that doesn’t make it good objectively. Indeed, the quality of technical (or non-technical) teaching in Syria is not good, language notwithstanding.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 31st, 2007, 12:13 am

 

33. EHSANI2 said:

Finding qualified Syrians has been one of the main obstacles that the new private banks and the other corporations have faced recently. Clearly, the present education system does not seem capable of preparing the country’s students for today’s job market.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 31st, 2007, 12:19 am

 

34. idaf said:

Firas Azmeh,

If it works for the Chinese, Danish and Israelis (with a language very close to Arabic) and every other independent country around the world (not the former colonies that opted for teaching in the language of their former dominating power) then why should it not work for Arabs or Syrians?! If you think that Arabic is not capable of handling Engineering while Hebrew and Danish are, then that is either subconsciously racist or ignorant.

Your analysis about why Arabic language is incapable of adapting with science is entirely flawed. It has been proven otherwise through out history and more recently on a smaller scale. I totally disagree with your points 2 and 3. Apparently, you lack information and access to facts on these topics and only base your perceptions on anecdotes or personal experiences. Unfortunately I don’t have enough time on my hand to list the the information on the tens of billions of dollars that are being invested in Arabization in the last couple of years through foundations around the Arab world. And, by the way, your quote from the 2001 UN Arab Human Development report about Spanish vs. Arab publication is outdated.

The problem with many students coming out of the education system in Syria is that many use the Arabic language as a scapegoat for their inability to find jobs or pursue further education abroad. Language of education is not even a factor for all respected universities while evaluating applications from foreign students (as long as the English language skill is sufficient)! Yes, the education system is bad, but not because of the language. Get over it.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 31st, 2007, 6:31 am

 

35. Immigrant said:

I think Syria is not China or even Turkey, it has its specifics. The passion for Arabism is well understood, but the last 40 years of this policy showed us the impotence of this vision and the impotence of its leaders. If we listen to this type of failed and unpractical calls while the world is turning the time will pass us by. Not only as Ehsani said about the managers and bankers needed in Syria, right now there are needs for everything, books, people, teachers, ethics and managerial people and so on. My observation is that private schools are dumping everything and starting from scratch in teaching. The new schools are in contrast to public schools. The new “open economy” will require a complete haul with the old system in order to succeed.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

December 31st, 2007, 6:33 pm

 

Post a comment


8 − six =