- I met with the Association of Syrian Bloggers last night at Leila’s Cafe next to the Umayyad Mosque. What a truly wonderful crowd. Ten bloggers showed up. Ayman Haykal, who keeps the Damascene Blog, is the organizer of the association. (His site lists most of the blogs.) Two women bloggers were among the 10 who showed up; most are university students and write in English because of a few technical difficulties caused by writing in Arabic. It seems they are easy to overcome, so we can expect more Arabic blogs quickly.
There were a mere 5 blogs or so in Syria at the beginning of 2005. Now there are some 34 or 35. “A veritable blog explosion is going on,” Ayman announced. All the same everyone was dismayed at the small number of Syrian blogs. “It is because we are afraid of the written word,” one explained. “We base our blogs around photos. They can say a lot.” We spoke about many subjects: Syrian identity, Arab nationalism, democracy, US policy, and, of course blogging as it related to each. Almost everyone said he was optimistic about Syria’s future and believes the country is changing quickly and for the better.
It was one of those evenings that make you feel good to be alive. Leila