Saturday, July 30, 2005

Mr. Obscene is now a Syrian diplomat. I was watching this program on Al-Jazeera today while working out, and there I saw "Dr. Yahya Al-`Aridi, the Director of the Syrian Press Office in London." I knew the guy. When I was a graduate student in the 1980s, a colleague and a friend, the wise `Abdul-Khaliq `Abdullah (who is now a professor at the University of the Emirates) wanted to revive the Arab Student Organization at Georgetown University. So he convened a few meetings. I, who avoid organizations and meetings, attended just because I believe in `Abdul-Khaliq's leadership and commitment. And then a Syrian politician was visiting Washington, DC, so the organization invited him to address the group, and this member of the group, this Yahya Al-`Aridi guy--introduced the guest by heaping praise on the Syrian regime, and saying things that only an oppressive government functionary would say about an oppressive government. I was quite displeased, as you may expect. I waited for the next meeting, to say this: "we, here, don't agree on politics. We don't know one another. Many of you are sent by Arab governments, and some may in fact be reporting to them about what other students do or say. For that reason, whatever is said on behalf of the group, should be agreed on by the entire group." And I addressed the guy, Al-`Aridi by telling him that his praise for the regime does not represent me, or the group, and that he should refrain from ever doing that again. The guy, went crazy on me, literally. He simply went on a rampage of obscenities and vulgarities, addressed to me and every member of my family, the likes of which my Lebanonese ears have not heard in one stretch. At that point, I said that I cannot talk to somebody like that, at that level, and left the room, never to attend any of those meetings again (remember that, Rima, Rania, and Rula?). So this guy is now in charge of the Syrian press office in London. Let's hope that he does not engage in obscene talk on live TV. Or maybe not.