Elaine Imady: “A Damascus Life: Walking a Tightrope, How a Multi-cultural Family can Thrive”

Elaine Imady

Elaine Imady

A Damascus Life: Walking a Tightrope, How a Multi-cultural Family can Thrive
By Elaine Rippey Imady
for Syria Comment

I was very surprised and pleased to find my book, Road to Damascus recommended on the Syria Comment blog. Since my publisher, MSI Press, is small, there has been no campaign to promote my book and it can only be ordered on-line from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. The only bookstore that stocks it is Ex Libris in Damascus so I welcome any publicity I can get.

Since last Sunday, March first, marked exactly fifty years since I arrived in Damascus, my thoughts have naturally gone back to that unforgettable day and the events that led up to it. Half a century has passed since my arrival with my husband Mohammed Imady and our daughter, Susu, after a three-week trip from New York to Beirut across the rough Atlantic by freighter in the dead of winter followed by a wild taxi drive in the dark over the two mountain ranges separating Lebanon and Syria. Traveling to Syria meant leaving behind my mother and my two sisters and uprooting myself from my small Hudson River town where my mother’s family had lived since 1765. How surprising that I would end up thousands of miles from home in a country where I did not know a soul and could not speak the language and how even more unlikely that I would still be here today, fifty years later.

Mohammed and I met at NYU in December 1955 and we knew from the first day that we were destined for each other. I told my mother that night that I had met the man I would marry and she laughed. Seven months later we were married. We felt our meeting and marriage was maktoub – that it was written, ordained.

When I first met Mohammed, we talked a great deal about Islam and, as a disillusioned Christian, I listened with interest. To tell the truth, at this time in my life, my understanding of Islam was quite superficial. I merely felt that if Islam was Mohammed’s religion, it must be good. I had my letter of confirmation in the Palisades Presbyterian Church removed and made the shahada, the profession of faith in Islam, in front of two witnesses. That is all there was to it. I was now a Muslim.

Some time after this, I saw a film about the Middle East at the Organization of Arab Students in New York. In one scene, there was a man in flowing robes praying in the desert while the voice-over – first in Arabic and then in English – recited one of the famous verses from the Qur’an: Qul hua Allahu ahad … Say, God is One… The voice seemed to speak directly to me, and I was electrified. This was the moment of truth that sealed and affirmed my acceptance of Islam.

April came and, with it, my first Ramadan. I told Mohammed that I intended to fast, but the first day he found me in the university cafeteria drinking coffee.

“I thought you were going to fast,” he said.

“I am – I haven’t eaten a thing.”

“But you’re drinking coffee.”

“You mean you aren’t supposed to eat or drink? You didn’t tell me that.”

The next day I was caught smoking a cigarette, and the third day I was chewing gum, two more things that broke the fast. Finally, I got it sorted out. I remember one afternoon mowing the lawn in Palisades while watching the slow, the very slow progress of the sun across the sky. It wasn’t easy, but I kept the fast all that Ramadan without any more mistakes and was thrilled to have shared this special month with Mohammed.

Mohammed Imady

Mohammed Imady

After we married, Mohammed sometimes took me with him to the Islamic Student Organization of New York, and we would join the small number of Muslims who gathered for Friday prayers. Half a century ago there was not a single mosque in New York City, and we Muslims had to make do with a chapel on the campus of Columbia University which we shared with Christians and Jews. On Fridays, we would unroll the beautiful Persian carpet donated by the government of Saudi Arabia and conduct our prayers. Students took turns being the imam, the one who leads the prayers and gives the sermon. Things were much more relaxed in those days. We girls prayed in skimpy scarves that did not really conceal our hair; only nylon stockings covered our legs and some of us even had bare arms sticking out of short sleeves. None of this would be acceptable today…

When I arrived in Syria, secularization and Westernization seemed to be the wave of the future. Two factors reversed this tide beginning in the late sixties: one was the blanket support of the West for Israel, particularly after the 1967 War, and the second was the appearance of several female Islamic scholars who began to reclaim Islam for women from centuries of male interpretation. Young girls were attracted to these charismatic teachers and adopted the hijab from religious conviction. These teachers encouraged their students to get the best education possible and many of these girls became medical doctors, pharmacists, engineers, members of Parliament, bank directors and teachers. They actually achieved more than many of their feminist, secular mothers had.

In 1960, I was a young mother of twenty-five with a small daughter. Now I am a great-grandmother of seventy-five with four great-grandchildren in addition to my eleven grandchildren and three children. Unlike most of my friends whose grown children are studying or living abroad, all our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren live in and around Damascus and every Friday they visit us and our home and garden reverberates with their laughter, their tears and their uproar. English, Arabic and “Englibic” – what my children call the mishmash of Arabic and English that some of the younger ones speak – all compete to be heard. My granddaughter’s young fiancé sometimes leads the prayers with his beautiful voice, but more often our patriarch, my husband, is the imam and several generations line up behind him.

Let me introduce my children: Sawsan, my oldest child, has a Masters in Education from the University of Southern California and is in charge of the English curriculum at a private school with classes from Kg to 12th grade. Muna, my second child, graduated from Damascus University in the English Department and later got a diploma in English/Arabic translation. She teaches young Syrian children English with her own books and curriculum in two private schools.

Omar

Omar Imady

Omar, my youngest is the newly appointed Dean of the New York Institute of Technology in Amman, Jordan. He has a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and commutes home to his family in Damascus every weekend. Three of my granddaughters teach English and three of my grandchildren have certificates for memorizing the entire Qur’an. My children, their children and their grandchildren are all bi-lingual, bi-cultural and observant Muslims. In fact, my daughters and five of my granddaughters, all but the youngest, wear hijab.

Sometimes I ask myself, how did all this happen? How is it that all our children decided to return home to Syria after many years abroad? How is it that even to the fourth generation, our bi-lingual, bi-cultural English/Arabic family tradition persists? Part of the reason is that early on I made the conscious decision that I didn’t want my children to feel like strangers in their own country so I shared them generously with my in-laws who lived in the same building. Children in Syria are encouraged to feel dependent upon their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles which helps knit the family together in a way Americans might envy on the one hand and find stifling on the other hand. First Susu, and then my other two children were to walk a tightrope between the expectations of two very different cultures. Upstairs with their Syrian grandmother, uncle and aunties they would fit in seamlessly, accepting the dependent role unquestioningly. Downstairs, with me, they would be independent, assertive and self-reliant. As they switched from Arabic to English effortlessly, so they seemed to adjust their behavior automatically.

The Light of the World

Light of the World

As for the children’s religion, I left that to the aunties – my sisters-in-law. The children knew I had accepted Islam, they saw me fast in Ramadan and yet we had a Christmas tree, a turkey dinner for Thanksgiving, parties for New Year’s Eve and Halloween and picnics for the Fourth of July. Observing these American holidays helped me feel there was some continuity between my old life and my new. It not only was a link to my past, it also enriched my children’s lives as they grew up with not one culture and its traditions, but with two. My children were very confident in their Islam and, at the same time, very accepting of their American relatives’ religion. In my mother’s parlor there was a large picture of Christ called “The Light of the World”, a reproduction of a popular 19th century painting by William Holman Hunt. Over the years, many of the photographs of our children were taken with this picture on the wall behind them. Susu would blithely refer to it as the “picture of the Prophet Issa” and my mother would smile. My mother was amazingly supportive of my decision to become a Muslim and always respected her grandchildren’s religion. My mother – who was always “Mommy” to my children – wrote the following about her visit to Damascus in 1974 and it will give an idea of how the differences in our family were bridged. Omar was eight years old at the time.

Mother wrote: One night in the year, the 15th of Shaaban – the lunar month just before the month of Ramadan – Muslims believe that the gates of Heaven are open and that everyone who prays this night will have his wishes granted. This year I happen to be in Damascus on this special night and my darling grandchildren tell me the things they are going to pray for. Omar wants to be superman and Muna wants her own bedroom. They both say they will also pray that I have a long life and come to see them many times.

Mother continued: Omar, when he was very tiny, used to go around the house saying, “Ya Rub” (Oh Lord!”) over and over. Now he goes with his father to the mosque every Friday and no matter where we are, Mohammed always manages to find a mosque. Omar comes back and tells me that he prayed for me.

Omar Imady and his Shaykh

Omar Imady and his Shaykh, Muhammad Bashir al-Bani

I guess Omar feels I am in need of his prayers. One hot afternoon when I am trying to catch a nap, I hear Omar shouting angrily over the courtyard wall. I can also hear the taunting voice of the neighbor’s son shouting back. Minutes later Omar bursts into my room with a red, excited face.

“What’s the matter?” I ask, “Why were you and the boy next door shouting?”

“Mommy,” says Omar earnestly, “I hate him! He called you a name and I told him I would kill him if he said it again.”

Piqued, I ask him what the boy said.

Muhammad Bashir al-Imady, son of Omar Imady

Omar says, “He called you a Kafir (unbeliever) but, don’t worry he won’t dare to say it again!”

Dear little confused boy. I decide to take off the large cross I had been wearing recently. Omar, I knew, would eventually sort out his motley family and end up, like all his Syrian/American family, very tolerant and open-minded. (And so he did.)

My mother died in 1995, but my children remember her with love. Her tolerance and the way she, a life-long Presbyterian, embraced her Syrian Muslim family sets an example for how a multi-cultural family can thrive.

My journey on the road to Damascus has been – still is – an amazing trip, one I would not have missed for worlds. To learn more about my adventures, you can read my book, Road to Damascus.

Comments (52)


Mohamad Al Kutab said:

Not sure how insipring this story is? Your Husband had convictions. Your mother lived achristian life, she embraced with love your choice of religeon which was based on your your love of a man. You do not seem to have any convictions.

March 4th, 2010, 9:20 pm

 

trustquest said:

What a wonderful story from an angle like woman, her honesty and simple way of life are great reflections of the great American spirit which keep renewing with its entire positive and negative sides. I really enjoyed it so much and thank for her for this brief episode of her life as she almost describing our opposite journey from Syria to the US.

March 4th, 2010, 10:26 pm

 

Shami said:

Wonderful Story.Thank You Madame Imadi.Indeed ,Cultural diversity is a blessing for our country and the Islamic world which had always been a mosaic of different cultures ,religions and nations.

March 4th, 2010, 11:44 pm

 

TAJJAWAD, KUALA LUMPUR said:

The beauty of Islam. Islam is the multi-cultural society that’s bring unity. I love to visit this country one day. The land of the messengers of God.

March 5th, 2010, 4:24 am

 

offended said:

Very heart-warming story, Mrs. Imady. Thank you!

March 5th, 2010, 5:28 am

 

Elie Elhadj said:

Mrs. Imadi,

You painted an inspiring and beautiful picture of a religiously tolerant Syrian society and a religiously tolerant American family. We should all be hopeful that the forces of tolerance and peace in Islam will eventually overcome the forces of Wahhabi darkness and violence that hijacked Islam for far too long and blackened the face of Arabs and Muslims everywhere.

To read about Muhammad Imadi’s family has a special meaning to me. I was a student of your good husband at Damascus University in my Junior year in 1965. He taught me Economic Development. I remember him to be that calm, thoughtful, polite, and articulate handsome gentleman. Please give him my very best regards. May I wish and your family all good health and happiness.

Elie

March 5th, 2010, 6:54 am

 

Alex said:

Dr. Mason explains that he “went for a walk” into the eastern perimeter of the site – an area that hasn’t been explored by archaeologists. What he discovered is an ancient landscape of stone circles, stone alignments and what appear to be corbelled roof tombs. From stone tools found at the site, it’s likely that the features date to some point in the Middle East’s Neolithic Period – a broad stretch of time between roughly 8500 BC – 4300 BC.

It is thought that in Western Europe megalithic construction involving the use of stone only dates back as far as ca. 4500 BC. This means that the Syrian site could well be older than anything seen in Europe.

At a recent colloquium in Toronto, Canada, Mason described his shock at discovering the apparent tombs, stone circles and stone alignments: “I was standing up there thinking, oh dear me, I’ve wandered onto Salisbury Plain,”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/archaeology/news/syrias-stonehenge-neolithic-stone-circles-alignments-and-possible-tombs-discovered-1914047.html

March 5th, 2010, 8:06 am

 

Omar Imady said:

Thank you Joshua for sharing this. I’ve long been an admirer of Syria Comment and of the light it attempts to shed on the distorted and misunderstood.

My sisters and I owe so much to our mother who taught us to celebrate and respect Christmas and Eid. Later, my Sufi mentor, Bashir al-Bani, built upon my mother’s upbringing and taught me to embrace all people for their innate spiritual worth.

Best,

Omar

March 5th, 2010, 12:06 pm

 

Jamal said:

I am uncomfortable reading about this woman’s wonderful, wonderful, sugarcoated life.

Fact: she has enjoyed a privileged and protected existence as the wife of a senior official of a dismally corrupt, incompetent authoritarian government.

A man whose “career” and legacy as Economic Minister would inspire mirth if it wasn’t so tragic for the people of Syria.

Her life is insultingly remote from how life is lived by 99.9% of Syrians, the economic struggle, the bleak absence of opportunities, the undercurrent of fear and helplessness when dealing with the authorities.

Maybe if she had more insight and integrity and was better-informed about the realities she would keep herself and her family out of the limelight instead of smugly parading their charmed lives.

Now, if she was the wife of one of those courageous, intelligent Syrian dissidents who has endured the rounds of prison and torture THAT could be a story.

I noted a clue when I read the interview linked to a previous item about her here. She boasts of having stood beside her husband in his career. As she is doing now with this silly propaganda exercise.

I thought SyriaComment was meant to be serious about Syria.

March 5th, 2010, 1:34 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Jamal
True, Mrs. Imadi’s family may have lived a privileged life, but that does not negate the enlightened spiritual experience she, her mother, her husband, and their children have all had part in creating. Being serious about Syria means being serious about everything in Syria. The delightful experiences such as she describes, as well as those sad and unjust ones you described.

I do not want to turn this thread into a referendum on Dr. Imadi’s performance during his days as a senior official. To me it suffices to say that to my knowledge, twice during his career, he left comfortable jobs to assume the post when asked to serve. And in both cases, he was brought in as a rescuer facing incredibly strong power centers. Not an easy job for an academic.

Being brought up in a middle class professional family, my life was also remote from the lives of many Syrians at the two ends of the economic strata, or was it? their lives were also remote from mine. So, which one describes a uniquely Syrian life journey. I would like to think that we all can and should, and that privileged or not, and like it or not, we all are part of the Syrian fabric.

Like you, I would like to hear the stories of dissidents’ families. We heard from the son of one of these selfless advocates of freedom a while a go, and we are following several other cases through posts and discussions. Syria comment is serious, and part of our collective seriousness is to enjoy inspiriting stories such as that of Mrs Imadi’s, heaven knows, we need such stories badly. Mrs Imadi, thank you for sharing, and thanks for writing a special post “for Syria Comment”, my online home away from home.

March 5th, 2010, 3:12 pm

 

norman said:

OTW ,
Do not let the Name Jamal make you think that he is Syrian or Arabic , he is an Israeli who is trying to spread conflict between Syrians which what they are good at

March 5th, 2010, 3:18 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

JAMAL said:

I am uncomfortable reading about this woman’s wonderful, wonderful, sugarcoated life.

Would be interesting to read Jamal’s reaction to the Russel Tribunal on Paletine in Barcelona, Spain.

Now thats real serious about a people that are not leading a very , very wonderful life.

http://www.bcnsolidarid.tv/tv/

March 5th, 2010, 3:44 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Dear Norman
Thanks for the heads up. But that makes my response even more relevant.We stand as one in our love for Syria and Syrians, don’t we?

March 5th, 2010, 3:49 pm

 

norman said:

OTW,
YEP

March 5th, 2010, 4:01 pm

 

Majhool said:

This is a nice story. I must add that the economic policies during Mr. Imadi’s tenure were utterly destructive. If people still recall, the Ministry of Economy sold the public cars in 1982 and took money from buyers. The cars were delivered in 1994!! Mr Imadi’s ministry did not take devaluation of Syrian currency into consideration ($1=SYP4 in 1982 vs. $1=SYP 50). technically forcing the public to pay for the cars again. Oh, and its worth to note that at that time, that ministry had a monopoly on importing cars.

March 5th, 2010, 4:24 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

المعلم ينفي تصريحات نسبت له باستعادة الجولان المحتل على مراحل ويصفها بـ “الغير صحيحة”

March 5th, 2010, 6:37 pm

 

Syrian Nationalist Party said:

They are back,
I guess they are getting the early bird special, wait till 2012-15 for the full scale relocation. When one evaluates all, the offical governments and media tales really never made scence at all, nothing added up, except it was all a coverup, black budget, for this hidden underground cities and mines they built in Iraq and Afganistan.

Here it is, not in MSM but this outfit in Syria:

http://all4syria.info/content/view/22523/57/

March 5th, 2010, 9:39 pm

 

Yossi said:

Shaaban continues with her baseless conspiracy theories, such as Israel assassinated former Swedish minister Lindh and Israel giving medals to the killers of Muhammad Al-Dura.

http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/207/0/4013.htm

…”The war on Gaza revealed to the entire world the real faces of Israel’s leaders, and the crimes [that they committed] against the Palestinian people in recent decades….

Well that’s true.

But at the same time, Shaaban shows the world the real face of Syrian officialdom, too: same old Baathist liars.

March 5th, 2010, 9:50 pm

 

Jamal said:

I am conscious my sourness about Mrs Imady collides with her starry–eyed oversweetness. But I was already annoyed by SyriaComment running the earlier piece on her book and the linked interview where she gave her disingenuous and oversimplified vision of the world.

To Norman and Ghat Albird:
Thanks! The ultimate insult, just as the Zionists scream “anti-semite” at anyone who says anything non-approving about Israel. I loathe Israel, but you all might as well pull up a chair next to its proponents by taking that approach which kicks Syrians aside and promotes Mrs I’s cockeyed (and immensely self-serving) world view.

I am delighted about the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. And wouldn’t it be fantastic if it turns out to be a pilot program and template for one with 10 times the horsepower on US complicity with Israel!

Off the Wall:
Your awareness of the realities of most Syrians’ lives was not helped by the black hole where sophisticated media, information on social and economic realities and discussion by civil society should have been instead of propaganda. And it still is, I suspect.

On Mr I’s career – what comfortable well-paid jobs or thriving businesses were there in Syria not somehow linked to patronage by the regime, OTW ? And 24 years as Economic Minister isn’t a bad run, something that would be impossible in a functioning democracy. If she’d lived 24 years with a local academic’s salary and the frustrations of his poor professional resources and intellectual restrictions she would be singing a very different song.

But back to her.

She said in that interview: “I hope my book can correct (American) misconceptions and provide a rounded picture of Syria and Syrians”. Yes, exactly, and won’t the regime be pleased with your husband and other members of his family sitting on their cushioned chairs in the system!

She puts herself centre stage as a lovely, friendly, charming old lady, who has spread wonderment and good cheer wherever she goes (hey, she told us she brought the idea of the birthday cake to Syria). To be kind, maybe the self-awareness, information-gathering, analytical and critical parts of her brain have been displaced by religion.

I was thinking of sending her some IMF, Amnesty International, UN and other serious reports to read about Syria and suggest she study some past discussions on SyriaComment. But I noted in that earlier linked item that she has held roles with local UN and UNICEF bodies, so she consciously isn’t into all that dreary stuff.

Her observations, if made by a man would have him viewed as a simpering simpleton. Likewise, a Syrian woman writing about the western world in the same style would look silly.

March 5th, 2010, 10:04 pm

 

Alex said:

Yossi 7abibi please use this occasion to understand a bit more how I feel.

You read two or three opinion pieces from one Syrian official who does not pay much attention to having a proof to back up her claims against Israel.

Now try to imagine how you would feel if you heard thousands of these! … really .. thousands if not tens of thousands when you take into account the opinion pieces and the casual accusations you hear in FOX or CNN that repeat exactly what they hear from the very respectable President and vice president of the United States or the leaders of Israel, or the “analysts” in the right wing think tanks … none of which is backed up by a valid proof.

The “Baathists” in Syria are a 1000 times more professional than the clowns in the Bush administration and in Israel and in Chirac’s France who accused Syria of everything under the sun without any proof.

Don’t blame one Syrian official for failing few times to be perfectly professional … there is a serious “change in behavior” due first before the Israelis expect those “Baathists” to be more fair and careful in their opinion pieces.

I would like to hear both the Obama administration and the Israeli leadership to declare publicly that they apologize to Syria for all the accusations they produced every day for years and years.

Because from day one they all agreed to accuse Syria of killing Hariri, Syria lost thousands of leaders’ hours, and billions in lost opportunities and investments … at least Buthaina’s words will not make Netanyahu stay an extra few hours in his office everyday to prepare Israel’s defenses against her accusations, and no American banks will refuse to provide loans to Israel because of Buthaina’s accusations, and no allies of Israel will boycott Israel because of buthaina’s accusations.

Syria paid a heavy price because of the thousands of lies from Israel and its allies.

March 5th, 2010, 10:42 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

For Iran,an oil producing country, but has no refinary,her behaviour does not sound right,they must build refinary.

March 5th, 2010, 10:52 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

JAMAL said:

To Norman and Ghat Albird:
Thanks! The ultimate insult,

GHAT ALBIRD said:

Would be interesting to read Jamal’s reaction to the Russel Tribunal on Paletine in Barcelona, Spain.

Now thats real serious about a people that are not leading a very , very wonderful life.

I intended no insults in the above staments.

March 5th, 2010, 10:56 pm

 

Alex said:

Egyptian foreign minister Abu El-Ghait, is saying all the right things before the upcoming Arab summit in Libya. “Syria holds the balance for the Orient (the East), and Egypt seeks to preserve Syria’s national security”. He said there are high level contacts, and he added that an Israeli attack on Syria or Lebanon by Israel would cross a red line.

He joined Syrian Foreign Minister Waleed AL-Mouallem who told Al-Sharq Al-Awsat yesterday that he is optimistic that the Arab summit in Libya will lead to serious reconciliation among the various Arab states.

وفي حوار أجرته معه صحيفة “الحياة” عشية الاجتماع الوزاري لمجلس الجامعة العربية في القاهرة، أكد أبو الغيط أنَّ “لا فتور في العلاقات بين القاهرة دمشق”، وقال: “متفائلون بتقارب وتنسيق مشترك، فسورية هي ميزان المشرق، ونسعى إلى الحفاظ على أمنها القومي”، وإذ تحدث عن اتصالات رفيعة المستوى مع دمشق، حذر أبو الغيط من “العواقب الإقليمية لأي مواجهة شاملة مع إسرائيل”، واصفاً الرئيس الأميركي باراك أوباما بأنه “مكبّل”.
إلى ذلك اعتبر أبو الغيط أنَّ “المنطقة باتت رهينة لدى إيران”، مشدداً على أنَّ “مصر هي رأس الحربة في الدفاع عن المصالح العربية”، ومبدياً تفاؤله “بمزيد من الخطوات في جمع الشمل خلال القمة العربية المزمع عقدها في ليبيا هذا الشهر، استناداً إلى المبادرة التي أطلقها خادم الحرمين الشريفين الملك عبدالله بن عبد العزيز لتحقيق المصالحات العربية”.

في مجال آخر أمل أبو الغيط في ألا “نصل إلى اختبار للقدرات”، وقال: “نصمم على عدم قيام إسرائيل بأي أعمال عدوانية تجاه سورية أو لبنان، فهذا بالنسبة لمصر خط أحمر، ويجب ألا تستغل إسرائيل الفرصة”، مضيفاً: “سورية وبالتالي لبنان، هما دولتان عربيتان، ونسعى إلى توفير كل ما يحقق مصالح شعبيهما”.

March 5th, 2010, 11:06 pm

 

Jamal said:

Ghat Albird, you are right. The talk of insult was directed at Norman. I appreciated you mentioning the Russel tribunal.

March 6th, 2010, 12:15 am

 

Majhool said:

Jamal,

you are an Israeli “3ameel” !!!

See, if you have a different openion you are one of three things

1) “Ameel=traitor
2) Israeli
3) Secterian

Pick your pick

March 6th, 2010, 12:46 am

 

Yossi said:

Alex,

You are right, I understand your point. Shaaban is not damaging Israel, and Netanyahu will not lose sleep over what she says. In fact, she is damaging the credibility of the Syrians and she provides a lot of fodder to Israelis who want to shut their ears to criticism and discredit any Syrian overture towards peace. That’s why she gets on my nerves. For example Ben-Dror Yemini wrote in Maariv that the entire Apartheid week is a sham because amongst the ones preaching to Israel about human rights is Shaaban, with all her exaggerations and lies and with her association with a regime that is not known for being the best in town as far as human rights are concerned. So because of her involvement, the Apartheid criticism can be brushed of as just a tool the Syrians are using against Israel in the international public opinion arena, instead of being addressed. Therefore my suggestion is to leave the human rights talk to people not affiliated with states who have less than perfect human rights records. Let’s leave it to NGO’s, the UN to scholars and writers. And let’s make sure that politicians talk about the interests of their people, as Assad has been recommending, and are acting diplomatically (and I don’t mean like the diplomat Danny Ayalon 🙂 ).

March 6th, 2010, 1:02 am

 

Ghat Albird said:

AFP/AP Israeli forces raid Al-Aqsa Mosque compound
Fri, 05 Mar 2010 11:18:38 GMT:

Israeli forces have stormed the courtyards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the occupied East Jerusalem Al-Quds and cordoned off its premises where dozens of Palestinian protesters had gathered.

Eyewitnesses said that Israeli policemen had encircled the Al-Aqsa Mosque since the early morning hours and clashes erupted in the holy complex after the Israeli forces raided the area to push out the Palestinians.

The protesters responded to the attack by throwing stones. Several people were injured and dozens more detained in the unrest.

Muslims consider the frequent Israeli attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as part of a Judaization campaign that targets the holy city of Jerusalem Al-Quds and a provocation of Muslim feelings.

Have yet to read any mention of such actions in the msm.

BET THE FOLLOWING HEADLINES WOULD BE IN THE NYT, WALL STREET JOURNAL, WAHSINTON POST, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS ET AL

ARAB forces have stormed the courtyards of the WAILIN WALL in the occupied East Jerusalem Al-Quds and cordoned off its premises where dozens of ISRAELIS protesters had gathered.

Eyewitnesses said that ARAB policemen had encircled the WAILING WALL since the early morning hours and clashes erupted in the holy complex after the ARAB forces raided the area to push out the ISRAELIS.

The protesters responded to the attack by throwing stones. Several people were injured and dozens more detained in the unrest.

JEWS consider the frequent ARAB attacks on the WAILING WALL compound as part of an ISLAMIC campaign that targets the holy city of Jerusalem Al-Quds and a provocation of JEWISH feelings.

Why would that not be an acceptable scenario?

March 6th, 2010, 1:50 am

 

norman said:

Ghat,

So what are you going to do about , we have cowered for leaders , Israel would not last one year if oil producing Arab states stops supplying oil to the West ,

March 6th, 2010, 2:26 am

 

Joshua said:

Jamal, I think your anger is misdirected. Elaine Imady has raised three children, all of whom are dedicated to teaching and education. All could have left the country to make fat salaries in the West. They haven’t. Accusing her of corruption or disregard for her fellow countrymen doesn’t stand up.

I understand anger at the haves, especially when so many in Syria are have-nots. That same anger, I suppose, is what drove the socialist revolutions led by Nasser and later the Baathists. Perhaps you would have joined their ranks had you been born back then – driven by the hope of bringing a better life to the majority of Syrians who lived in the countryside and had no schools, no running water, no electricity, and no health care of any kind. Unfortunately, socialism did not end grinding poverty for many. It did redistribute wealth – even if only for a short while – and did provide basic state services to the countryside.

Today, that experiment looks like it was a mistake. Syria is again at a major crossroad. It sounds to me as if the Imadis have positioned themselves to do the hard work necessary to help Syrians get educated and avoid the mistakes that were made in the past. I only wish more of Syria’s elite showed the same dedication to remaining in Syria and to working in the trenches to lift up the next generation as do the Imadis. Syria needs them.

I find their tolerance, openness to difference, and ability to celebrate what is best about Syria an inspiration.

Mohamad Al Kutab, I cannot agree with your suggestion that Syrians should show more zealousness to their prophets and reject those not embraced by their sect. I understand that this has become fashionable in Syria today. As Rumi said:

“A lover’s nationality is separate from all other religions, …
The lover’s cause is separate from all other causes
Love is the astrolabe of God’s mysteries.

You argue that Mrs Imady showed too much love to her husband, her children, and her adopted country and not enough to either Jesus or Muhammad…. What can I say? I wish more people in this world shared her convictions. To me, they are well placed. The ability to love, despite differences and to accommodate another’s world – that is the spirit of honest tawhiid.

Finally, to Omar Imady. Thank you for your kind words and for writing here. I look forward to meeting you the next time I am in Syria. You mother is a light to our world.

Best, Joshua

March 6th, 2010, 5:05 am

 

Ghat Albird said:

NORMAN said:

Ghat,

So what are you going to do about , we have cowered for leaders , Israel would not last one year if oil producing Arab states stops supplying oil to the West ,

NORMAN

On a personal basis very little. Nevertheless there are opportunities for all living in the nations around israel to manifest their views by rallying around those who vocalize their views as demanding the same rights and respect that israel receives from both its main supporter and other sympithesers.

As the saying goes nothing lasts for ever.

March 6th, 2010, 1:42 pm

 

Joshua said:

I received this reply from Elaine Imady. I publish it as is.

Dear Joshua,

I don’t have a thick enough skin for this. I really couldn’t sleep all night. Nasty cracks about me, although unfair, were not what really bothered me. It was the attacks on my husband that really upset me. This is what I wanted to write in answer to some of the comments:
* * *
To respond to comment # 15 of Mahjool: For his information, my husband was not even the Minister of Economy in 1982. At that time he was working for the Arab Fund in Kuwait . He was called back to Syria in 1985 – indeed to rescue the Syrian economy which was in terrible shape due to several incompetent ministers of economy who were appointed after he went to Kuwait to head the Arab Fund. He left an extremely well-paying job in Kuwait to return to help his country where, as Minister of Economy, he was paid a salary that was a tiny fraction of what he was paid in Kuwait.

Before Mohammed was appointed Minister of Economy, it was common knowledge that each minister of economy stayed about two years – until he had filled his pockets. The opportunities for enriching oneself – illegally – as minister of economy are well-known. My husband shocked all the wealthy merchants of Syria by his absolute adherence to the law and refusal to ever take a “commission” in order to facilitate some illegal transaction. His honesty and loyalty to his country cannot be questioned. He has even bravely turned down illegal proposals (which would have made him rich) from extremely highly placed officials in the government – people whom no one dares to refuse – with the calm statement that “This is illegal and I cannot do it.”

Yes, compared to most Syrians, we are comfortable, only because of Mohammed’s six years in Kuwait. We always thought President Hafiz Assad sent him to Kuwait so that we might make some money. Before going to Kuwait, we lived in a very modest apartment in Mohajareen in a building my father-in-law bought in 1931. We had been in Syria 16 years before we could afford to buy a car. We lived simple lives which anyone can plainly see if they read my book.

In 1955, my husband was sent to New York University on a government scholarship – his family could not afford to send him – and when he returned, he was appointed a lowly employee in the Ministry of Planning and everything he acheived since has been due to his own efforts and in spite of all these detrimental facts: he had an American education, an American wife, was not a Baathist nor did he belong to any political party and was from an old “notable”- but not rich – Damascene family. He has worked long, hard hours all his life for his country, the country he loves, and at the age of 80, when most people are sitting home enjoying life, he works full-time six (not five) days a week. He arrives at the Syrian Commission on Financial Markets and Securities before most of his employees and never gets home before 3 PM. Today, Saturday, is the day he devotes to working for the Arab International University where he is chairman of the board of trustees – a job which is not a sinecure, but one which he takes very seriously. This morning he left at 8:30 am to drive the 40 km. down the road to Jordan to Ghabagheb where the university is situated. He will not get back until late afternoon. I truly wonder what some of the nasty bloggers are doing for their country today!

My husband’s honesty, integrity and ability are well-known and he has dedicated his life to doing his best to help his fellow Syrians. Being a dissident is far from being the only way to help your country. I know my husband has helped hundreds of people during his long career – helped in finding jobs, in getting an education and in extricating people from different kinds of very serious trouble. As a minister, he had the power to help people and that is exactly what he did. I don’t think any dissidents can claim to have had the impact for good that my husband has had. No Syrian dissident can say that he or she has helped the large numbers of people in trouble that my husband has helped. And just a final word – in almost 50 years of working he has never taken a vacation. He always counted his official trips abroad as “vacations” altho he would work hard on each trip.

As for our children, they were raised to serve their country and none of them are wealthy entrepeneurs – or married into wealthy families. True, Omar works in Jordan, but his family is here and his wife is in charge of the English program at the Little Village School. All our children are workaholics and now one granddaughter is teaching part-time while she attends Damascus University in her second year. She is the third grandchild to work while studying at the university. We are not raising spoiled children. You do not see our children or grandchildren in nightclubs or expensive elite sport clubs or taking trips here and there. All of them know and feel how privileged they are and work hard in order to give back to their country and to those less fortunate than them.

March 6th, 2010, 4:11 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Dear Mrs Imadi
Thank you for confirming my comment. I was a young man when your husband was appointed minister of Economic, and I recall the various shy discussions and relief that the right man was finally picked for the right job.

The reputation of Dr. Imadi can not be sullied. While one may debate the policies, socialism, market economy, or the political framework, I tend to agree with you that many middle to high ranking officials who were in positions to help troubled people and to do good did exactly that. To those, who shared Dr. Imadi’s ethics, he was a role model and they knew the odds he faced for many of them faced similar, albeit smaller scale odds. My late father was also in a position to enrich himself, but he ably refused, and like your husband, he spared no opportunity to help those facing troubles. Reading your response reminded me of him, a dedicated civil servant, who lived his life inspired by his ethics and openness, in both he and my mother inspired me and my siblings along with many of their students, co-workers, and colleagues. Thank you again for sharing.

Last evening I read your entire interview with WRR. I felt that it was candid, brave, and to the point.

March 6th, 2010, 5:06 pm

 

Alex said:

Dear Mrs Imadi,

Everyone who worked with your husband respected him for his refusal to benefit from corruption and for his professionalism and dedication to his country. It is unfortunate that those who complain that they are victims of accusations through generalizations are often casually ready to accuse others of crimes they did not commit simply because the system in general had its faults.

March 6th, 2010, 6:02 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

If the Owners Were Honest

Jamal said:

Her life is insultingly remote from how life is lived by 99.9% of Syrians, the economic struggle, the bleak absence of opportunities, the undercurrent of fear and helplessness when dealing with the authorities.

I thought SyriaComment was meant to be serious about Syria.

I loathe Israel…

Jamal,

If you haven’t noticed, Syria Comment is the unofficial mouthpiece of Baathist Syria. The “little people” and their problems are not a concern here. We have a little rug we sweep the inconviences of Syrian life under (freedom, poverty, famine, economic ruin, etc). However, your feelings about Israel are always welcome and appreciated;)

March 6th, 2010, 9:54 pm

 

norman said:

I enjoyed what you wrote in the comment section and made me hopeful for the future of Syria with people like your husband ,
it is very clear that your husband , DR Imadi, looked more after his country than himself , God bless him for his hard work , and you for your understanding of the long hours and the lack of vacations , my American wife shares your understanding ,

March 6th, 2010, 10:25 pm

 

trustquest said:

Mrs. Imadi, thank you for the elaborations and for documenting your husband role in these dark periods of Syrian history. You have to excuse dissents if they could not think of your husband different from the rest, it is very hard to imagine this anomaly in a state stamped by corruption on a levels no one could yet record or imagined, especially the top ranks and elites,. And thank you OTW and Joshua for shedding more lights and for your feed back, but no thank to Alex who is not doing the right thing and is hurting those professional, intelligent, understandable, kind and honest people like Mr. and Mrs. Imadi who never attacked either dissents nor government even if they disagree with them.

March 6th, 2010, 11:04 pm

 

Majhool said:

I truly appreciate Mrs. Imadi’s response. It shows a level of accountability the average Syrian is not accustomed to. Indeed Mr. Imadi is not known not to have enriched him self, contrary to his peers or his boss, the dreadful Mahmud Al-Zou’bi who was murdered/committed suicide when he past his usefulness to you know who. I am saddened that my comment was misunderstood to be an accusation of corruption, which is not. It’s simply a judgment over a legacy, which is very different.

All said, my comment served a purpose, which is to spark some debate about Mr. Imadi’s economic policies. It’s true that Mr. Imadi was not in office in 1982 but he was in 1994 when the government decided to rip-off the middle class, and made the people pay for cars they already paid for. Again, the stupid, authoritarian, and corrupt system is to blame.

The 80s were awful to middle class in Syria. It witnessed a systematic destruction of the underpinnings of the traditional Syrian economy. I.e. trade and commerce. Currency exchange was punished by death. Imports were banned (including cars) and special economic courts were established. These were not policies meant to get running water and electricity to villagers like Dr. Landis would like us to believe, instead it was what the regime needed in order to survive and hold on to power. Even toilet paper was no where to be found in the 80s. Again, I appreciate Mrs. Imadis response and think it’s very healthy to shed some light on Imadi’s role in that dark period of Syria’s history. I believe that would be book worthy.

As for Alex, well he did not live in Syria in 80s so he does he know. I forgive him.

March 7th, 2010, 12:33 am

 

Majhool said:

For those who did not live through the 80s in syria, just to get an idea.

March 7th, 2010, 12:44 am

 

Elaine Imady said:

Majhool: To further explain what was behind your complaint about paying twice for the cars. In 1982 the decision was made to collect money from the people since there was not even enough money in the country to buy wheat. He announced that people could buy cars and collected money. In fact, there were NO CARS. When my husband returned in 1985 large numbers of people came to him complaining about the cars they had paid for and asking where these cars were. Finally, by 1994 the country was able to buy the cars and, as you said, charged the people for them. This was in no way my husband’s fault. The country had paid for the cars and had to charge people for them. The fault lies with the minister in 1982 who falsely claimed that people were “buying” cars when in fact this minister was just collecting money. This could never have happened under Mohammed Imady.

It is absolutely true that the period from September 1979 until the summer of 1985 was a terrible time for Syria and my husband was in Kuwait at this time. President Hafiz Assad once said to my husband that one of the worst mistakes he ever made was to send my husband to Kuwait. The ministers of economy in his absence almost ruined the country. It took years of hard work against all kinds of obstacles for my husband to get the country back on its feet.

March 7th, 2010, 6:53 am

 

Shai said:

“Syria Comment is the unofficial mouthpiece of Baathist Syria…”

I wasn’t planning to comment on this section, although I did find Mrs. Imadi’s piece fascinating. But this little jab by a fellow “pro-Israeli” couldn’t go unanswered.

Akbar, if this forum is an unofficial mouthpiece of Baathist Syria, what on earth are YOU doing here? Do you honestly think you’re match for this well-oiled Baathist propaganda machine? (Btw, how do you know it’s “unofficial”? Maybe it is super-official, sponsored “creatively” by the most corrupt politicians in Syria?)

Are there blind-supporters here on SC? Sure. And you’re one of them, AP. Remind us the last time you criticized Israel for something, anything? Actually, if you were really interested in seeing Baathist propaganda in the works, there are a few online versions readily available for you, even in English. And if you knew anything about Baathist propaganda, you’d realize SC is about the farthest one could be from such a thing. If it truly was a propaganda machine, Akbar, would the moderators allow YOU to voice your regular anti-Syria rhetoric? Kind of a contradiction-in-terms, isn’t it? But maybe it’s a really-sophisticated propaganda machine. One that allows anti-propaganda criticism to be voiced…

But finally, a bit of honesty. Is FOX-News a propaganda machine? If no, then please rescind your suggestion that SC is one. And if yes, then fine, we’re all partaking in some scheme or another. We’re all pushing someone’s agenda, if not our own…

March 7th, 2010, 7:03 am

 

Ghat Albird said:

AKBAR PALACE comments with the backing of a $16 million dollars a day every 365 days of the year in addition to billions of dollars in military aid from the US taxpayers.

Strange that given all that money, missiles, bombs, etc,. he/she still writes as if petrified by the Baathists in Syria? AP the socalled “day of reckoning” for all can occur on any day. SALAM/PEACE.

March 7th, 2010, 1:21 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

AKBAR PALACE comments with the backing of a $16 million dollars a day every 365 days of the year in addition to billions of dollars in military aid from the US taxpayers.

Ghat,

How did you come up with $16 million? Were you reading the Hamas websites?

My calc shows that $3B/365 is about half of what you claim or about $8M/day. And about only half of that is military aide ($1.5B/yr). Egypt receives around $5.5M/day.

Since Israel’s military budget is about $15B/yr, the amount the US supports Israel’s military is, then, about 10% of Israel’s budget.

BTW – How much money does Hezbollah and Hamas get from Iran and other well-wishers?

March 7th, 2010, 5:22 pm

 

Hassan said:

I would say its official that this blog is a mouthpiece of the Baathist regime of Syria. Much like in Damascus, you won’t find any criticism of the regime here. Landis is like Patrick Seale or David Lesch, in return for access to the court they have sold their credibility.

http://spectator.org/archives/2006/01/04/assads-academic

March 7th, 2010, 9:19 pm

 

Hassan said:

For Arabic speakers out there:

سورية لا ترى أملا في «الإدارة الأميركية اللطيفة»

|بوسطن – من حسين عبد الحسين|
http://alraimedia.com/Alrai/Article.aspx?id=170484&searchText=%E1%C7%E4%CF%ED%D3
«يقول (لي السفير السوري في واشنطن عماد) مصطفى، ان هذه الادارة لطيفة، لكن لا امل سوريا فيها»، حسب احد اساتذة الجامعات الاميركيين، الاشد تأييدا لنظام الرئيس بشار الاسد، جوشوا لانديس.
لانديس، مقرب جدا من مصطفى، وهو غالبا ما يتصرف كشبه ناطق باسم السفارة السورية في واشنطن، رغم انه مقيم في ولاية اوكلاهوما، وهو تحدث امام مجموعة من السوريين والاميركيين من اعضاء «جمعية الدراسات السورية» على هامش اعمال «جمعية دراسات الشرق الاوسط»، التي عقدت مؤتمرها السنوي في بوسطن، بحضور رئيس الجمعية السورية بيتر سلغليت، ومجموعة من الباحثين السوريين والاميركيين والاسرائيليين من مؤيدي الانفتاح على سورية، وتصدر هؤلاء الصحافي الاسرائيلي ايال زيسر.
لانديس اعتبر ان سورية عانت منذ العام 2005 من العزلة الدولية والعقوبات الاميركية. ويقول ان «كل ما تحدث عنه (مساعد وزير الخارجية فيصل) المقداد اثناء زيارته لواشنطن كان موضوع العقوبات الاميركية المفروضة على سورية… ذهب الى الخارجية وقالوا له ان يذهب الى التلة (حيث الكونغرس)».
لذا، يعتبر الاكاديمي الاميركي ان النظام السوري «فقد الامل» من واشنطن.
«لنكن واقعيين، لم يعد هناك شيء اسمه الخطوط الجوية السورية، لذا على سورية ان تفكر بشراء الطائرات من اوروبا (بدلا من اميركا). انظار سورية اتجهت شرقا نحو تركيا… ايران تنهض والصينيون مترددون جدا في فرض عقوبات عليها»، يقول لانديس، رغم موافقة الصين، بعد ايام، على التحذيرات الاميركية التي تبنتها الوكالة الدولية للطاقة الذرية في وجه ايران.
«ان تركيا هي اكبر شيء بالنسبة الى سورية،» يتابع لانديس، الذي نقل عن السفير السوري، اثناء عشاء امام مجموعة من الاطباء السوريين من السنة، ان «ايران ليست افضل صديق لدينا، بل تركيا». واضاف لانديس: «طبعا (مصطفى) كان يكذب الى حد ما».
كذلك اعتبر لانديس، ان النظام السوري يشعر بارتياح اليوم، «فلا معارضة داخلية ولا تحديات اميركية، وبشار صار يستخدم تكتيك (والده الراحل) حافظ (الاسد)، اي انه لا يفعل شيئا، وينتظر الاخرين كي يفعلوا، فيخطأون، ويستفيد هو من اخطائهم».
ورغم الحملة الاعلامية التي يقودها لانديس وامثاله، في عواصم غربية، تهدف الى اظهار سورية بمظهر المنتصرة التي استعادت علاقاتها الدولية، قال لانديس: «عليهم (السوريين) ان يخرجوا من العزلة… بعد 10 او 15 عاما، لن يعود (الاميركيون) بحاجة الى سورية». ويعتبر لانديس ان «مد النفوذ الاميركي (حول العالم) هو في طريقه الى التراجع»، لذا، الرهان السوري الاصح سيكون على الصين».
ويختم لانديس بالتوجه الى الحاضرين مطمئنا اياهم: «السوريون لم يعطوا شيئا في الموضوع اللبناني، ربما اعطوا قليلا فقط، وهم حتما لم يعطوا شيئا لاميركا».
هنا تدخل المفكر السوري صادق جلال العظم معترضا، وقال: «لماذا نعتبر ان الصين قد تكون قوة افضل من اميركا؟ ماذا ستفعل لنا الصين في فلسطين؟ واين هي الخطة العربية لصناعة الطائرات او لانقاذ فلسطين»؟
ثم اثنى على «ربيع دمشق»، واعتبر ان نهاية هذه الحركة الديموقراطية في سورية جاءت مع المقال الذي كتبه الناشط ميشال كيلو، ابان الحديث عن انفتاح سوري اقتصادي على الصين. «كان عنوان مقال الكيلو يومها، حل صيني لمشكلة سوفياتية»، اي الحديث عن حلول اقتصادية مثلما حصل في الصين لمشكلة استبداد النظام في سورية شبيهة بالاتحاد السوفياتي، الذي انهار. وقال العظم: «كل ربيع دمشق انتهى بعد تلك المقالة».
واضاف ان «ربيع دمشق» جعله فخورا باستمرارية النخبة المثقفة السورية: «40 عاما من الاستبداد لم تؤثر على الانتلجنسيا السورية، وصحافة لبنان – هونغ كونغ سورية – ساعدت كثيرا في بقاء هذه الطبقة».
وتابع العظم: «شعرت بالفخر في ذلك الوقت. اما ازلام النظام – خصوصا بعد مقتل (رئيس حكومة لبنان السابق رفيق) الحريري – فقد زادوا من نشاطهم. حتى الاحاديث العادية التي كان المثقفون السوريون يتداولونها في السهرات، توقفت بعد مقتل الحريري».
ثم طلب لانديس من الصحافي الاسرائيلي ايال زيسر، الحديث، فنقل الاخير عن الاكاديمي الاميركي ديفيد ليش، والاخير مقرب من ومؤيد لنظام الاسد كذلك، ان «الاسد يعتقد اليوم، بعد نحو 10 سنوات على تسلمه الحكم وابقائه على الثبات فيه، ان السوريين بدأوا يكنون له المحبة والاحترام».
وحسب زيسر، فان السلام السوري – الاسرائيلي غير ممكن حاليا بسبب «غياب الشريك الاسرائيلي». ويختم بالدعاء انه سيلتقي يوما مع لانديس في دمشق، هنا يجيبه لانديس، «ان شاء الله».

March 7th, 2010, 9:50 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

AKBAR PALACE said:

Ghat,

How did you come up with $16 million? ebsites?
The same way you came up with your numbers.

Were you reading the Hamas websites?

No. I was reading Wikipedia’s expose on your people.

A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

“A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, commonly referred to as the “Clean Break” report, was prepared in 1996 by a study group led by Richard Perle for Benjamin Netanyahu, the then-Prime Minister of Israel. The report explained a new approach to solving Israel’s security problems in the Middle East with an emphasis on “Western values”.

According to the report’s preamble,] it was written by the Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000, which was a part of the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies. Former United States Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle was the “Study Group Leader”, but the final report included ideas from James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser.

March 7th, 2010, 10:05 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Ghat,

I am very familiar with “A Clean Break” from 14 years ago. Many Americans agree we should break with countries that support terrorism.

But that still doesn’t show how you dreamed up the $16M/day figure.

Posting a link would help. Also, you didn’t offer the estimate ($M/day) Hamas and Hezbollah receive from Iran and other organizations. Why not?

March 8th, 2010, 1:41 am

 

Majhool said:

Mrs. Imadi,

Thank you for further explaining the circumstances around the infamous “car” issue. Your transparency is remarkable and the information you provided is very valuable. Again, thank you very much.

Your testimony takes an additional importance since it illustrates that unfit and uncountable individuals such as Muhammad Atrash continued to take charge of the destiny of Syrians. Mr. Atrash became minister of Finance in 2001 under president Bashar.

March 8th, 2010, 5:58 am

 

Farah Ali said:

Dear Ms Imady,

I was in Damascus from 1993 to 1996, and studied at the Pakistan International School of Damascus, and Susan Imady was one of my teachers. She taught us English (grades 7 and 8). I have never forgotten her, and I have tried to find her over the internet but to no avail – until now. I came across this blog and there is a big chance that your daughter Susan Imady was that teacher.

My parents visited Syria recently and my mother visited PISOD (where she had taught as well – her name is Yasmin), and found that Ms Imady was no longer teaching there.

I would be immensely grateful if you could put me in touch with her. She is one of the most inspiring people I have ever met, and I would love to talk to her after all these years.

I am currently residing in the US, and would be willing to provide contact details.

Best regards,
Farah Ali

April 6th, 2010, 3:04 am

 

OMER QURAISHI said:

LIST OF TERMINATED TEACHERS AND CORRUPTION IS BEING INCREASE DAY BAY DAY

FIRST OF ALL PRINCIPLE GOT TERMINATED FROM HIS JOB PRINCIPLE PAKISTAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF DEMASCUS SYRIA (PISOD)
TERMINATED TEACHERS FROM MORE THAN 18 YET TERMINATED FORM PAKISTAN INTERNATIOANAL SCHOOL OF DEMASCUS AND SOME MORE BLACK JOBS OF PK EMBASSY
DEMASCUS
FIRST OF ALL I WOULD LIKE TO TELL ABOUT CHINSE SHOES sale
HE IMPORTED CHINESE CHOES FORM CHINA AND ORDERED TO WEAR
THESE SHOES ALL SCHOOL STUDENTS and Mr AMINULLAH RAISANI ambassador also accept about sales of these shoes by his order
Teachers who terminated with out any reason and without giving any prior notice Teacher name ARE
MENTIONS WITH DETAILS
(Mister mudar) whose degree was false according to ambassador and but proven by court its original
his phone number is mentioned ANY ONE CAN TAKE
Can take Information from HIM
(1)MR MUDER: MOBILE NUMBER 00963 988733333

(2) MR IMRAN a ACCOUNTANT who was appointed (NOW Mr. RAISANI APPOINTED IS OWN MAN ON THREE TIME DOUBLE SALARY for such job)
(3) MISS MANAL SULEMAN MOBILE NUMBER 00963933441760
SHE IS ALSO TERMINATED (SHE WAS ONLY SYRIAN TEACHER OF BIOLOGY FOR SENIOR CAMBRIAGE LEVEL)
MASTERS DIGREE HOLDER (she WAS SERVING IN SCHOOL FOR YEARS)
(4)MR DR.RAGHDAAN PhD DR physics PHYSICH TEACHER DONT HAVE HIS MOBILE NUMBER RIGHT NOW WILL PROVIDE YOU LATTER IF YOU WILL START CORRESPONDENCE
(5)(RANA AJAL YAQEEN) LADY TEACHER MOBILE NO 00963 988061461
(6)BASHAR ABU SAMARA (ENGLISH TEACHER) 00963 933273827
(7)MISS RANA AJAL music teacher
(8) MISS HALA (SCIENCE TEACHER FOR JUNIOR SECTION) SYRIAN
(9)MRS .SHABANA IMRAN URDU TEACHER TERMINATED AND SENT BACK BY AMBASSADOR SHE WAS GETTING
ONLY 18 THOUSAND SYRIAN CURRENCY EQUAL TO 200 US DOLLARS NOW NEW TEACHER APPOINTED BY
AMBASSADOR IS GETTING 3500 DOLALRS HE BELONGS TO HIS FAMILY

(10) Ayesha talal MATHIMATICS teacher PAKISTANI 00963 932279995
(11)REEJ BULKY SCIENC TEACHER ALEMANTRY BRANCH 00963 0933673687

(12) (MISS MAHA SAIFI ENGLISH TEACHER)
(H.O.C. Mr. Zahid CONUCELOUR PK EMBASSY DEMASCUS)HE WENT against to principal COZ HE WANT
TO PROVIDE CHEETING MATERIAL BY PRINCILE MR syed tosief BUKHARI BUT FORMER PRINCIPLE DID NOT ALLOW TO CHAETING TO HIS SON Mr. zahid councilor (D.O.C) is also representative of raisani AND
COUNCELOR MR ZAHID IN EMBASSY for hiding HIS black job hired his THAT SON Mr. Uzair son as librarian ON 2000 dollars
‘(HE WAS A STUDENT 1. Who have not even passed over his A level examinations. May be he is even less than
18 years by replacing another Librarian (Mr. Kamran Farhat) who was working as Librarian with MSc Qualifications
For a salary scale of 550 dollars per month and his life was made even bitterer to quite his job. Librarian 2000 DOLLARS

(MR ATTA UALLH KHAN COUNCELOUR PK EMBASSY DEMASCUS) HE ALSO HIRED A
IRAQI NATIONAL LADY IN PAKISTAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF DEMASCUS (NAME MISS SUAD)
Miss SUAD, an Iraqi national, was issued a Pakistani
Passport from the Embassy of Pakistan, Damascus, Syria,
For two years. Miss Suad was issued a passport bearing number KG074143 on 11th
September, 2008 while she already possessed an Iraqi passport bearing number G710238.
Her Pakistani passport, which is expiring on 10-09-2010,
Has an address of Gujar Khan, Rawalpindi. (House No. 179, Mohalla Rajgan, ward No. 9,
Gujar Khan) and the NIC number mentioned on the passport
Is of a minors form-B, who is a resident of Rawalpindi,
According to the National Data Base Registration Authority (NADRA).
PASSPORT FOTO COPIES ARE ALSO ATTACHED
I DONT KNOW HOW MANY PAKSITANI PASSPORTS HAVE BEEN
ISSUED YET TO OTHER NATIONALITY HOLDERS IN SYRIA BY PAK EMBASSY DEMASCUS BUT I ONLY KNOW THIS ONLY ONE ISSUE BUT I HEARD SOME MORE ABOUT IT BUT DON’T HAVE PROOFS

It is to highlight and bringing to your kind notice as an appeal for investigation and justice for the corruption and mal-practice of authorities at Pakistan International School of Damascus, Syria, since the arrival of new Ambassador of Mr. Amin Ullah Raisani in Syria school become a place for accommodating relatives children’s, kens of the embassy officials and it appears the school is the personal property of embassy staff of Pakistan Embassy.
Ambassador of Pakistan.
1. He appoint his sister Mrs. Saeeda Raisani, As Principal, of (PISOD) Pakistan International School of Damascus, Syria, and also appoint his brother in law as an Accountant (PISOD), on heavy salary package without rule and criteria.
2. He appoint his two daughters and more than 10 family members in (PISOD), in heavy salary package without rule and criteria.
3. He is involves in too much financial corruption of (PISOD) Pakistan International School of Damascus, affairs that everybody related to school knows including students parents, teaching and staff members are suffering the situation of mental stress, because he come everyday morning to the school and stays in the school as discipline incharge (Like a PT teacher) stands on the main gate and collecting the fine (money) from late comers students or without uniform, its his daily practice and this act is against the ethic of morality of an Ambassador. (pictures are attached).
4. Every Staff Member and Teaching Staff are suffered in mental Stress and threats of being terminated from the school at any time without assigning anz reason even the previous Principal Toseif Bokhari was terminated without any allegation who was running the school quite successfully for the last three years, who promoted the school from 600 approx students to the double strength, with a definite increase in the income and savings for (PISOD).
5. Ambassador has inducted too many members of his family on lucrative salaries and incentives, which broke all the records of financial corruption (a comparative statement of salaries is enclosed).
6. He raised the salaries to more than 150% without any approval from the competent authority i.e. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, although the Ministry instructed them to get an approval for any new hiring from Pakistan on heavy salaries.
7. Income of the PISOD in 2006 was 2042400 dollars per annum and after 3 years of hard work of the terminated management it went to 4774000 dollars per annum. But now he is using his authority over and above and steeling the (PISOD) reserved funds. Sir, you can check the Account of PISOD from Habib Bank Lebanon from September, 2009 to January, 2010.
8. Three court cases are filed against the Ambassador and his Sister (Principal) in Syria for illegal termination of some Syrian National school staff members. Annexure Attached.
Mr. Atta Ullaha, Councilor.
1. He is involved in financial and moral corruption, he is enjoying his illicit relations with some unknown ladies, giving them illegal-unauthorized benefits and hiring them in (PISOD).
2. He had issued one illegal passport to an Iraqi Leady who had her own Iraqi passport authorizing her two different places of birth/nationality alongwith two different locations. Only for raise of her salary from 550 dollars 3200 dollars because Pakistani Passport holders are engaging on heavy salary. (photo copy of both Passports are attached).
Mr. Zahid, Councilor..
1. Head of Chancery (HOC)Pakistan Embassy in Syria violating his legal position by appointing his son Mr. Uzair in (PISOD) on a pay 2000 dollars per month, who have not even passed over his A level examinations. May be he is even less than 18 years by replacing another Librarian Mr. Kamran Farhat who was working as Librarian with MSc. Qualifications for a salary scale of 550 dollars per month and his life was made even more bitter to quite his job.
2. HOC has violated on many occasion he is utilizing (PISOD) income to fulfill their embassy’s expenditures like petrol in the cars, frequent lavish dinners and tea parties in different hotels restaurants’ are arranged from (PISOD) funds because nobody is their who can account far these unauthorized acts of these officers.
3. A new car was purchased for the Ambassador but the previous car is still in the usage of Ambassador’s wife and its maintenance and fuelling is being done from the PISOD funds, which is supervised by Mr. Zahid (HOC).

1. H.O.C. Mr. Zahid who is also financial head of the mission is using all illegal ways to use PISOD funds for Pakistan Embassy expenditures. All the cars of embassy officials are repaired maintained and fuelled through PISOD funds. Moreover lavish dinners, tea parties are arranged through the same funds.
NEW LINK ABOUT MR ATTA ULLAH KHANS BLACK JOBS YOU CAN READ IT BRIEFLY

http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=233026

AND I DONT KNOW HOW MANY PAKSITANI PASSPORTS HAVE BEEN ISSUED YET TO OTHER NATIONALITY HOLDERS IN SYRIA BY PAK EMBASSY DEMASCUS

April 15th, 2010, 8:03 pm

 

Tamadhur said:

My best wishes to Mrs. Elaine Imady and her family. I knew her daughter and grandchildren as family friends in a relationship spanning decades. Mrs. Imady should not have to defend herself or her family. They are a good family: religious, ethical, devout, and will go above and beyond to help those in need. Meeting Mrs. Imady’s family opened up my eyes to the beauty of Damascene Islam and I will always cherish the memories I shared with them. I count her daughter as one of my teachers and wish I had heeded her advice. May Allah bless and protect this dear family!

May 5th, 2010, 3:56 pm

 

Rahab Saleh said:

I am so happy to read about our Lovely Syria, and to hear and read the comment from others…and about Islam in Syria,
So what about Islam in Denmark? a lot of readers don,t know about it

Kindly I request to put add about my book(The Danish Kingdom, society, Geography, history and the relationship with the Islamic ward.

It would be good to let others know about my Denmark and historical relationship with Islam

Thank you in advance
Dr. Rahab Saleh

August 26th, 2010, 11:54 am

 

Syria Comment » Archives » News Round Up (29 August 2010) said:

[…] to Damascus, Elaine Imady’s new book which was featured on Syria Comment, and which inspired spirited debate with Elaine Imady herself. When Joshua Landis recommended to me Elaine Imady’s book, I wasn’t sure that I […]

August 30th, 2010, 12:33 am

 

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